Fr. Rick Frechette is a medical doctor and Catholic priest who has been working in Haiti for a more than a generation, running hospitals and social programs in Port-au-Prince as well as a Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos orphanage on the outskirts of the capital. He wrote the following epistle to his family and supporters last week.
The very heart of the very last hour of the daily rhythm of prayer, both in the very ancient and contemporary rites of the liturgy of the hours, is psalm 91, especially these lines:
“For you he has commanded the angels,
to keep you in all your ways,
they will bear you upon their hands,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.” Ps 91:11-12
I learned some deeper meanings to these words in the last weeks. Bear with me, as I try to explain.
Since the day after Hurricane Matthew, we have been scrambling to respond to many pleas for help, mostly from friends.
One of those pleas has been a pretty continuous call from Fr David Fontaine, a brother priest who was begging for help for three cut-off and isolated areas: D’Asile, Grand Boucan and Baraderes.
This is the first post in our new First Choice section. Future posts under this heading will take in fiction, music and dance, but this one urges you to imagine the real work being done by Fr. Rick Frechette and his comrades in Haiti.
The author is a physician and priest who has been working in Haiti for more than a generation, running hospitals and social programs in Port au Prince as well as a Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH) orphanage on the outskirts of the capital. Fr. Frechette is the author of The God of Rough Places, the Lord of Burnt Men and First has often posted his stories from Haiti.
When his father died last month, Fr. Frechette felt under an “obligation, which was also a privilege” to speak clearly about what his father had “learned by a long and full life, by illness, and by accepting death as his teacher.” Here is Fr. Frechette’s attempt to express his father’s earned wisdom.
The author is a physician and priest who has been working in Haiti for a generation, running hospitals and social programs in Port au Prince as well as a Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos orphanage on the outskirts of the capital. Fr. Frechette was awarded this year’s $1,000,000 Opus Prize.
For a few minutes he was just another dead man. That was the easiest way for me.
For me? Strange.
He’s dead, and somehow the focus is on me.
It all happened so fast. I was in Cite Soleil. Waiting for Nebez, Raphael and Conan. We were about to meet with the community leaders to make three community centers, in three different parts of Cite Soleil, with cybercafé, adult education, clinic and housing.
Fr. Rick Frechette is a Passionist priest-doctor (and FIRST contributor) who has been working in Haiti for a generation, running hospitals and social programs in Port-au-Prince as well as a Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos orphanage on the outskirts of the capital. One of the two hospitals he directs was destroyed by the earthquake. (Two medical volunteers from the U.S. died there.) The other, newer, state-of-the-art hospital, was damaged but it’s functioning. NBC reported on the work being done there last month. The reporter noted Fr. Rick had been taking care of his dying mother in Connecticut when the earthquake hit. She insisted he return to Haiti. He went back and forth, returning to U.S. in time to be with his mother as she died. He’s now in Port-au-Prince again and he’s updated friends and donors on the situation there. Please consider donating to Fr. Frechette’s hospital and orphanage.
Fr. Frechette, a doctor and priest (and hero of our time) who’s worked for a generation in Haiti, wrote this Christmas reflection last December, but it will always be in season.