SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Help is on the way for the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere thanks to an annual religious pilgrimage in northeastern Pennsylvania. At the center of it all is a visiting priest whose made it his life’s mission to ease poverty and suffering in Haiti. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller shows us what’s being done.
“Love shows up. Love shows up when you need it,” said Fr. Rick Frechette, C.P., D.O. during Tuesday’s novena homily at the Basilica of St. Ann in Scranton.
His novena homilies are inspiring, but you get more than words from Fr. Rick. You get a priest who exemplifies action, compassion and mercy.
“If we’re Christians or if we’re people who believe in God or people just of good will this is the name of the game,” he said.
While preaching spirituality to the novena faithful, his mind is on Haiti where he’s worked tirelessly to ease illness, pain, and suffering for three decades.
“My God if you went there and looked around you it would be like nothing has been achieved,” he said.
Through the years, Fr. Rick has helped build and rebuild the poorest sections of Port-Au-Prince following natural disasters. But he’s not going it alone. During this novena, he’s getting help inside St. Ann’s Shrine Gift Shop. Rosary bracelets, decorative crosses and metal signs made in Haiti are among items being sold to support Fr. Rick’s work through St. Luke Foundation for Haiti.
“It’s very important. I know it seems like a little thing, a little cord rosary you know for a dollar and things like that,” said Fr. Rick.
Among the items being sold here are greeting cards whose decorations are made from bamboo and banana leaves. They’re made by women in Haiti whose children are being tended to at a hospital for special needs.
But not all of the items come from Haiti. A Scranton-based group of St. Luke Foundation for Haiti also contributes hand-made items for sale. Some of its members like Linda Robeson have also done mission work in the island nation.
She said, “Even though with all of the destruction and everything that goes down there, they’re a very hopeful, joyful people.”
A people that may have a little more hope with every sale more than 1,500 miles away. Janet Rusnak of Simpson said, “Anything that we do here to support them is forever grateful for them.”
The items are on sale daily during the novena which concludes Friday in Scranton. While an online store is planned in the future, you can make a donation here.