A little more than two months after being ordained a priest, Fr. Daniel Lydon, CSV, found himself as something of an envoy, dispatched to Haiti to represent the Chicago Province of the Clerics of St. Viator at a 50th anniversary celebration of Viatorians serving in the Caribbean country.
Fr. Lydon was the only American representative to the congress, and he was joined by Br. Fredy Contreras and Br. Juan Carlos Ubaque, both Colombian brothers from the Chicago Province, who recently professed their final vows.
Fr. Alain Ambeault, CSV, Superior General, described the
congress as a celebration of consecrated life, in which members of the worldwide Viatorian Community served as”witnesses of joy” while pledging international solidarity.
“It was a grace to hold this congress here in Haiti, where the Viatorian charism has flourished for 50 years,” Fr. Ambeault said. “We are responding to the call of Pope Francis, during the Year of Consecrated Life. He has called us to “wake up the world.”
Viatorians first arrived in Haiti in 1965, after Papa Doc Duvalier, president of Haiti at the time, had expelled the Jesuits who were running the country’s major seminary. Viatorians not only staffed the seminary, they would also open four elementary schools, one high school, a women’s center, and a parish, with its main church and six mission chapels.
A retreat center in Port-au-Prince was destroyed in 2010 by a catastrophic earthquake, and while the Viatorians have not replaced the facility, they continue to run a novitiate in the country’s capital city, and over the years, it has produced many vocations to the Viatorian Community.