Church holds community together

By 
  • January 6, 2011

Odessi Petitfoin

Madame Odessi Petit Foin knows exactly what she’s missing since the church in Duvale collapsed, along with her house and most of the other houses in the farming community.

Duvale always did need lots of things. It was never rich. It needed a new road before the earthquake and now it needs it more. It has needed a new school for a long time and thanks to the earthquake it got one — built with aid money on the foundations of the collapsed church. And it needs houses for the families still living in tents by their tiny plots of tomatoes, cucumbers and peas.

In Petit Foin’s opinion, Duvale also needs its church.

“It preaches morality and conversion,” she said.

She also makes the point that it’s through the church that Duvale gets access to the international aid money which will finance a new Caritas Port-au-Prince agricultural improvement project. But that’s not the most important reason that Duvale needs its church.

“The church in Duvale plays a very big role that holds together friends and family,” she said.

Petit Foin is not an economist, a politician, a theologian or philosopher. But as she stands in the old church hall, which has become the church in Duvale, she’s hit upon something quite important.

There’s more to infrastructure than the efficient delivery of goods to market on safe, smooth and broad roads. A community requires infrastructure so it can hold together, so it can know itself and meet the world. Duvale needs its church so that it can be a community which people recognize when they see the church.

The people of Duvale themselves need to recognize that they are a community of families when they meet for Sunday morning Mass.

There is such a thing as spiritual infrastructure. In fact, if Duvale had a great road connecting it with Port-au-Prince but its people had lost their way and no longer knew themselves, no longer cared for each other, no longer lived in and for their families — well, that would be a road to nowhere.

- RAISING UP HAITI -
a Catholic Register special report

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