As a priest and a physician, Richard Frechette has known the body, heart, and soul of many people in the most anguishing of circumstances, when they faced the biggest challenges to their life and the meaning of it. To make the situation more dramatic, he has carried out his double ministry over the past 25 years in settings of extreme poverty, violence, social upheaval and natural disasters. The backdrop of his profound encounters with other people has often been the crucible. This personal experience of tough realities has been at once a descent into chaos and an ascent into compassion. The reflections in this volume are not properly about Haiti, though they are about real life incidents that happened there, during a particular time in her history. In a fuller sense, these reflections shed light on what happens in any place, at any time, to people of any race or class, who live out an assault on their human dignity. Whenever the dignity of human beings is marred, the human spirit finds itself in threatened conditions, and seeks desperately to preserve what is human about it. It is amazing how the human spirit finds light and hope in the most despairing darkness.
This is the unfailing light of God's grace, ever present and faithful, fiercely persistent in trying to renew the face of the earth and the pilgrim human heart. Grounded in space and time, and yet speaking of universal concerns, these essays show how the ancient human scourges of poverty, ignorance, illness, and violence desecrate humanity and weaken the spirit. Yet from these ashes many people, with the help of God, valiantly rise. This is a stunning work that crosses all conventional barriers between the personal and the political, between degradation by others and elevation by selves.
Richard Frechette is a medical doctor and Catholic priest who directs the Haiti programs of Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos International, and of his religious community, The Passionists. These programs include orphanages, schools, a childrens hospital and mobile clinics in and around Port-au-Prince. He did similar work previously in Mexico and Honduras.