LODI, N.J. — The Felician Sisters first set foot in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, dedicating themselves to helping residents in that impoverished country get back on their feet.
After several trips to Haiti spanning a number of years, the sisters established a mission in Jacmel in 2018, and members of the religious order have been living there ever since.
So when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti on Aug. 14, Sister Marilyn Minter, C.S.S.F., saw a great need arise. “I quickly realized it was going to be bad,” she said.
Sister Marilyn and her fellow Felicians ran out of the convent and into the street. No one in the group was injured. The mission, located approximately 80 miles from the earthquake’s epicenter in Les Cayes, wasn’t seriously damaged.
Sister Marilyn and three others — Sister Inga Borko, Sister Mary Izajasza Rojek, and Sister Mary Julitta Kurek — provide numerous services at their mission, including a mobile medical clinic, a pharmacy, a computer lab, a kitchen that feeds nearly 100 children a day, and a playground.
Following the earthquake, the sisters set out to do what they have always done — showing God’s love by helping people.
Their charitable instincts brought them back to the U.S. They collected donations of furniture, clothing, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and other emergency items at their Lodi, New Jersey, convent and had them placed in a truck-sized shipping container to be sent to Haiti.
A great deal of thought went into the Haiti relief effort, according to Sister Marilyn, who said the key was to listen to the Haitian people. “The idea isn’t to tell the people of Haiti what they need. It’s to listen to them and have them tell us what they need,” she said.
On Sept. 17, Felician Sisters welcomed students from Immaculate Conception High School who helped sort and pack the items into containers. Both the convent and the high school are located on the campus of Felician University in Lodi.
Under Sister Marilyn’s guidance, the operation ran like clockwork Friday morning as all participants did their share of the work. After each container was filled, the sisters then carefully labeled them.
James Crawford, president of Felician University, stopped by to lend a hand and to express his admiration for the sisters. “This is what we all should be doing. The sisters give us an example of what we should all be,” he said.
The students said they were happy to help such a worthy cause. “It’s important to help Haiti because, previous to the earthquake, it was an impoverished country. It’s important to give them the resources they need to thrive again,” said Anabella Cone.
Jessica Cutrona, principal of Immaculate Conception, said the sisters have important life lessons to teach her students: “We pride ourselves on honoring their mission of compassion and respect for human dignity,” she said.
In gratitude for their labors, the sisters gave the students t-shirts with the word Haiti written on the front. On the back of the t-shirts, there is an image of a heart bearing the words “Thy Neighbor.” The girls also received prayer bracelets made by grateful students in Haiti.
“The Haitians have very little, but they’re very happy people,” said Sister Adrianna Gurski C.S.S.F. “And they’re very generous.”