Sunday, May 31, 2009

Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, A Man who Gave his Life For New Haiti


I was 11 years old in 1996 when I first met Father Gerry in Saint Claire's
Parish. He had just become the pastor of the church. It was he who would
baptize me and later give me my first communion. He appointed me his
"right-hand" altar-boy after my first communion.

I was so proud when he said to Archbishop Miot during the celebration of
Saint Claire, on August 12th, 1998

"Wadner, he is my right hand, here. He helps me so much."

I lived with him between the years 1999 to 2008. I owe my education to him.
He was like an adoptive father to me. His advice was simple and direct:

"Wadner, remember the rules: pray,study, work, and eat."

One day I talked to him about the battle for a new Haiti. He said to me

"Wadner, remember as long as you shall live that a new Haiti is possible.
One day I will leave you. If I leave before you, the struggle must be
continued in the name of Jesus." He added with a smile "You understand, son?"

He became a political prisoner during the UN backed Latortue dictatorship
which ruled Haiti from 2004-2006. He was imprisoned on charges so
ridiculously fraudulent that Amnesty International designated him a "prisoner of
conscience" after his second illegal arrest by the Latortue regime. He was not
only arrested but treated with extremely brutality. His reaction to the
injustice he suffered was revealing of the type of man he was:

"I am a sinner, I forgive everybody who beat me, spit on my face, plotted
against me and my people, but I am sure the battle for democracy will
continue whether I die early or not. It is true, Twad [his nickname for me], they
will repent one day. I pray to God for that.".

He wanted to die in Haiti. He would say "If you see me very sick in Miami,
take me home."

His last travel to Haiti in early January of 2009. While there his
health deteriorated and his friends had to plead with him to get him to return
to Miami. He died on May 27 at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the age of 62.

Father Gerry always held his rosary. He fought with his rosary, and he died
with it. He famously told the Haitian court that finally dismissed all
charges against him that it was his only weapon. When I first traveled to the
United States, in 2007, he gave me a rosary before I left:

"Wadner, what you are doing? How can you travel without your rosary? Do you
know when God will call you? You need to be ready, my little brother."

Father Gerry was my Father, my hero, my mentor, and now, as far as I am
concerned, he is a Saint in heaven. Saint Geard Jean-Juste, I now dare to call
you my adoptive father. His story will continue. A new Haiti is possible.
He died for it.

1 comment:

Brian said...

Thanks Wadner, this is a great tribute to a great man.