Losing hearts to Haiti, and some resolutions

This Sunday, Jan. 12, marks both the feast of the Baptism of the Lord and the four-year anniversary of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that rocked the already impoverished nation.

Leaving more than 220,000 dead, 300,000 injured and 1.5 million homeless, the earthquake inspired a massive international response. Collections were taken up; social media support groups were formed; dead were mourned. In the aftermath of the quake, the miserable situation was exacerbated when rains poured and cholera spread.

All too soon, though, as the world turned its attention to other things, Haiti fell out of focus. At least for most.

In this week’s In Focus, Scott Alessi walks through the progress the country has made toward healing in the last four years. In it, he features the ones who didn’t turn away — relief groups like Food for the Poor and Catholic Relief Services, and individual parishes, like the many who “twin” with communities in Haiti.

I’ve never been to Haiti, but over the years I have spoken to many people who have, and three common things almost always surface. First, those who go to Haiti almost always become “hooked” into a continuing relationship with the country and its people. Second, the Haitian people, while some of the world’s most poor, are also some of the world’s most resilient and hopeful. And third, those volunteers who serve the poor in Haiti always end up feeling that they are the ones who have received the majority of the blessings.

Those featured in the In Focus are no different, and I hope it will be an inspiring piece — and perhaps one that encourages the involvement of your own parish or family in similar service work.

Jan. 12 also marks the official end of the Christmas liturgical season. In keeping with the spirit, we are featuring a couple of photos from Christmas around the world on Page 3, and the full text of Pope Francis’ Urbi et Orbi  (“to the city and to the world”) Christmas message on Page 17. In it, the pope asks that our hearts may be open to God’s touch so that we may be instruments of peace in our communities.

“Let us allow ourselves to be warmed by the tenderness of God,” he said. “We need his caress.”

Taking a page from the pope’s book, the editorial board outlined its own hopes and resolutions for the coming year, including continuing its prayers for a growing appreciation of all human life, for religious liberty, for the safety of immigrants and for our nation’s leaders. Most importantly, the editorial calls for all Catholics to “deepen their relationships with Christ and to go forth as missionary disciples.”

What resolutions have you made for 2014? Have you been inspired into action in the last year? Will your prayer life get some extra attention?

I welcome your thoughts at feedback@osv.com.