FORT PIERCE | Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito presided at a Mass Aug. 13, 2023, celebrating Notre Dame Catholic Mission’s 28th anniversary of service and ministry to the Haitian community. The liturgy, in Creole and English, included a children’s procession, liturgical dance and rousing music.
Besides the anniversary, the Mass also marked the end of the summer youth camp that began in mid-June, officially ending Aug. 15, the feast day of the patroness of Notre Dame, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A reception was held afterward in the social hall.
Greeting the Haitian parishioners and visitors, Bishop Barbarito said, “As always, I am so happy to be here to celebrate with you at Notre Dame, especially as you celebrate the anticipation of your feast of the Assumption this week and of your patronage under Our Lady.”
The Gospel was proclaimed in Creole and English by Father Yves Geffrard, mission administrator. The bishop’s homily focused on the Assumption of Mary.
“It is fitting that this week, on Aug. 15, we celebrate your patronal feast, the feast of the Assumption, because the Assumption of Mary reminds us of our journey through life,” he said. “The Assumption of Mary helps us to restore a necessary perspective of faith that reminds us that heaven is within reach.”
At the presentation of the gifts, some of the children who participated in this year’s summer camp processed to the altar carrying “gifts” slung over their shoulders to be placed at the foot of the altar. Young women also walked to the altar with gifts in baskets on top of their heads.
Before the final blessing, Father Geffrard thanked everyone who helped make the anniversary celebration a success, including staff, youth coordinators, members of councils and ministries, donors and volunteers.
“In a special way, I would like to single out one of the staff members of the youth summer camp, Tamara Alcidor,” he said. Handing her a plaque of appreciation, Father Geffrard said, “I want to thank you for your outstanding work with the youth summer camp.”
Alcidor, assistant youth coordinator, said afterward that “the children worked really hard preparing for their talent show as well as for the church’s celebration today.”
Tamara’s grandmother, Exalucie Alcidor, was jubilant. “I am so happy, and I am holding this (plaque) that was given to my granddaughter, Tamara,” she said.
Giving thanks to Bishop Barbarito, Father Geffrard said, “I would like to thank in a special way Bishop Barbarito for continuing to celebrate with us at Notre Dame, and we would like to give this plaque to our bishop for your great leadership as the shepherd of our diocese. May God bless you.”
At the liturgy’s conclusion, Father Geffrard described his hope for the Notre Dame mission parish. “I hope to always continue to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ through the intercession of our mother, Mary, as the Ark of the Covenant.”
The Notre Dame Catholic Mission, at 217 N. U.S.1, has been serving the Haitian people of Fort Pierce and surrounding communities since Aug. 15, 1995. According to the mission’s website, it strives to provide “religious and humane services to everyone, regardless of ethnicity, gender or religion. Notre Dame is a family congregation rooted in faith, hope and love. We follow the Lord’s example of true Christian stewardship.”