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Haiti prepares for next steps

Haiti prepares for next steps

In June of last year, the Venerable Joseph Kerwin Delicat, Dean of the Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, was elected as Bishop Coadjutor for the diocese of Haiti in anticipation of Bishop Duracin’s retirement in March of this year. A group within the diocese believed that Bishop Duracin had unduly influenced the election and made a formal complaint that went to a Provincial hearing panel. Those charges were found credible by the Province II Court of Review, and subsequently the diocese of Haiti was informed that the necessary consents for the election of    were not received.

In January of this year, Presiding Bishop Michale Curry wrote to inform the diocese that the necessary consents from the House of Bishops was not forthcoming;

On 3 January 2019, the 120-day canonically mandated period for gathering consents to the ordination and consecration of the Venerable Joseph Kerwin Delicat as the Bishop Coadjutor of Haiti came to a close. I am writing to report that a majority of the bishops with jurisdiction in The Episcopal Church did not consent to the ordination and consecration, nor did the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Haiti provide evidence of consent from a majority of the Standing Committees of the dioceses of The Episcopal Church.

In the coming days I will be in consultation with leaders in the Diocese of Haiti, as well as with others around The Episcopal Church, as we look for the next, best steps forward.

Recently, the diocese held its convention, where a plan for moving forward was decided.

Archdeacon J Fritz Bazin had this report;

The Diocese of Haiti’s Convention was held in the town of Leogane on the 29th and 30th of January 2019.

Starting Friday afternoon with Evensong followed by the Eucharist in Ste Croix Church, hundreds of delegates both clergy and lay participated in an almost 3 hour celebration animated by two local choirs singing in French, Kreyol and even Latin often over Haitian beats and lots of drumming.

Bishop Duracin delivered a very warm message in French and Kreyol, afterward all joined in for dinner in the cafeteria of the School of Nursing.

On Saturday the delegates gathered in the school auditorium for the Eucharist, followed by breakfast and back to the auditorium for the Synod’s business.

At 10am, the secretary announced that there was a quorum of 94 Clergy members, 85 were  present.  Of the 122 lay delegates 119 were present.

Words of welcome from Bishop Duracin who also explained the rules of participation.

Immediately the Synod had to elect the Convention Secretary.  As requested by some this election was done by secret ballot.   There were two candidates, Rev. Michelin St Louis was elected with 108 votes while the other candidate received 81 votes.

The next item was the election of 3 members to complete the standing committee, the winners each received more than 100 votes.

This Election reaffirms the mind of the Synod in favor of the actual standing committee.

In great transparence and following parliamentary procedures, with assistance of the chancellors, the Bishop invited the secretary to give reading of 2 resolutions for the future of governance of the Diocese.

The 1st resolution is a request for appropriate committee of the Episcopal church to work on revision and translation in French and Kreyol of the Prayer Book, in consultation with the Diocese of Haiti being the only French and Kreyol Speaking Diocese of the Episcopal Church and also it’s largest Diocese.

The 2nd resolution states that in accordance with the general Canons, since as of March 1st Bishop Duracin will resign, the standing committee will become the Ecclesiastical authority, consequently they will call for a visiting Bishop for Pastoral duties, a Chief Operating Officer and an executive Secretary.  These 3 will function under the supervision of the standing committee until such time when a Bishop Diocesan will be elected.

Both resolutions were voted by show of hands, the second with 127 for, 21 against and 13 abstentions.

 

Mark Harris, a priest in Delaware has followed events in Haiti closely and offered this perspective at his website, Preludium

The Episcopal Church of Haiti held its convention on January 29-30 in Leogane, a strong center of church life in Haiti. Archdeacon J. Fritz Bazin, an honorary canon of the diocese, and Archdeacon in the Diocese of South East Florida has written a commentary on that Synod meeting, as has The Rev. Fritz Desire, priest of the diocese. Both are included at the end this post.

The Synod elected a secretary and three new members of the Standing Committee and passed two resolutions.

About the elections, Archdeacon Bazin noted, “The Synod had to elect the Convention Secretary.  As requested by some this election was done by secret ballot.   There were two candidates, Rev. Michelin St Louis was elected with 108 votes while the other candidate received 81 votes.

The next item was the election of 3 members to complete the standing committee, the winners each received more than 100 votes.

This Election reaffirms the mind of the Synod in favor of the actual standing committee.”

These elections were important indications that the Standing Committee, which had been subject to considerable criticism following the special Synod Convention for the election of a bishop, still has the confidence of a majority of the representatives to Synod.

The two resolutions of the Synod give clear indication that the Diocese of Haiti is facing into its future with clarity and resolve.

The two resolutions are described by Archdeacon Bazin as follows:

“The 1st resolution is a request for an appropriate committee of the Episcopal church to work on revision and translation in French and Kreyol of the Prayer Book, in consultation with the Diocese of Haiti being the only French and Kreyol Speaking Diocese of the Episcopal Church and also it’s largest Diocese.

The 2nd resolution states that in accordance with the general Canons, since as of March 1st Bishop Duracin will resign, the standing committee will become the Ecclesiastical authority, consequently they will call for a visiting Bishop for Pastoral duties, a Chief Operating Officer and an Executive Secretary.  These 3 will function under the supervision of the standing committee until such time when a Bishop Diocesan will be elected.”

The resolve to engage the Episcopal Church in the work of producing a French and Kreyol Prayer Book suitable for the work in Haiti signals a continuing commitment to a liturgy that is both contextual and grounded in the Anglican and Episcopal liturgical traditions.

The second resolution affirms the Standing Committee as the ecclesiastical authority, under whose authority a visiting bishop, COO and Executive Secretary will serve. It does not envision an interim Bishop with ecclesiastical authority. It also acknowledges that the Standing Committee will give guidance related to a new election process.

All of this sets in motion the context for the retirement of Bishop Duracin on March 1st.  At the end of the month here will be a gathering in thanksgiving for Bishop Duracin’s 25-year ministry as bishop of Haiti and a closing Eucharist.

Dean Delicat, elected as bishop at a special meeting of Synod, failed to gain the required consents from bishops and standing committees of the Episcopal Church. There has been a criticism of the diocesan leadership, particularly of the Standing Committee, and concerns as to what might need to happen next in the Diocese of Haiti.

While there were clearly differences that will continue to need to be addressed, the Diocese has set its face to the future and made clear its intentions. The work will go forward and the Standing Committee will act as ecclesiastical authority until a new bishop is elected.

In Archdeacon Bazin’s words, “This Synod clearly demonstrated what I have always believed, that the people of the Church in Haiti are capable, with Gods grace, of insuring a smooth transition to the choice of a new Bishop  and the discernment of a renewed progressive vision for the church in their own context, yet faithful to the wonderful Episcopal Anglican Heritage.”

 


image: Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry (center), Bishop of Haiti Jean Zache Duracin (left) and Bishop Suffragan of Haiti Ogé Beauvoir (right), talk before the solemn Eucharist on Tuesday, May 23 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The bishops and members of the Diocesan Standing Committee ceremoniously signed a covenant aimed at healing and reconciling the diocese. Photo: Michael Hunn, ENS

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