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Haitian moms, moms-to-be receive layettes

Annual Mass sponsored by Catholic women’s group signals ‘hope, dreams’ for children

Cristina Cherizel holds her six-day old baby after the Mass at St. James Church where the MACCW presented layettes to eight Haitian mothers, including her.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Cristina Cherizel holds her six-day old baby after the Mass at St. James Church where the MACCW presented layettes to eight Haitian mothers, including her.

Baby gifts sit on the altar during Mass at St. James Church where the MACCW presented layettes to seven Haitian mothers.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Baby gifts sit on the altar during Mass at St. James Church where the MACCW presented layettes to seven Haitian mothers.

Members of the Miami Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women recite the Lord's Prayer during the Mass at St. James Church where the MACCW presented layettes to seven Haitian mothers.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Members of the Miami Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women recite the Lord's Prayer during the Mass at St. James Church where the MACCW presented layettes to seven Haitian mothers.

NORTH MIAMI | Audena Jean, 31, lost her first baby last year, after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Now, she is pregnant again.

“I had a kidney infection, a lot of pain, the baby boy died,” she said as she and seven other in-need Haitian-American women received layettes for their soon-to-be born or newborn babies.

The Miami Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women presented the layettes to the women at a baby shower June 24 following a Mass at St. James Church, North Miami. Their annual project is known as “The Haitian Mass and Layette” and takes place on the Sunday closest to the feast day of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, June 27. Each year the event is celebrated at a parish whose congregation is mainly Haitian-American.

The North Dade Respect Life Center helped Jean with her first pregnancy and miscarriage. She returned to the center when she found out that she was once again pregnant.

“She said, do you remember me?” recalled Maggie Olmedo, Respect Life Ministry program coordinator. “God blessed me with another baby. Thank you for all your support. We told her about the baby shower at St. James. We also sent another one of our clients to the baby shower, Sherlley Francois.”

The kidnapping of her cousin in Haiti drove Francois, her mother, brother and sister to leave the country. The family paid a $15,000 ransom fee for her cousin’s return. She now lives in Miami with her mother, brother and sister. Her husband lives in Haiti, but comes to Miami often. She is 26 weeks pregnant and expecting a girl in September.

“Respect Life has given me support and helped me get emergency Medicaid,” she said. “I am learning about caring for my new baby. I met people in similar situations. The amount of help that Respect Life has given me is unbelievable. I wish more people knew about Respect Life.”

Manuska Remogen, a liason between St. James Church and Respect Life, helped choose six other women from the parish to receive the layettes: Cristina Cherizel, 38; Marie Clerge, 36; Clermita Jule, 32; Rene Ulysses, 42; Emma Dorestan, 39; and Beatrice Cabrale, 33. Cherizel held her six-day old daughter, Serah, during the Mass and baby shower.

St. James’ pastor, Msgr. Chanel Jeanty, commended the work of the MACCW.

“Let’s give them a round of applause,” he said after Mass. “Motherhood is a challenging vocation.”

Archbishop Thomas Wenski, who celebrated Mass, said that children represent the future.

“Many hopes, many dreams are invested in our children,” he said. “Today, the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women came to St. James for Mass. I and these women are grateful to the parishioners of St. James and to your pastor, Msgr. Jeanty, for your warm welcome.”

He thanked the MACCW for their beautiful layettes, which consisted of clothes, car seats, Pampers, Huggies, bibs, baby wipes, toys, and blankets for the newborns.

“It’s a way of saying that the entire Catholic community also has hopes and dreams for the child that receives the layette and for all children,” the archbishop said.

The MACCW began giving layettes to women from Florida’s native American tribes, the Seminoles and Miccosukees, in 1983, to mark the feast of Kateri Tekakwitha, a native American saint. Miami’s auxiliary bishops at the time, Bishop Agustin Roman and Bishop John Nevins, would celebrate the Mass at St. Mary Cathedral. The MACCW members would give layettes to two women at that time.

In 2002, as the participation of native American women declined, MACCW members sought advice from Bishop Wenski, then a Miami auxiliary bishop. He suggested continuing the layette tradition but doing so for Haitian-American women. The number of recipients has grown over the years.

Layette recipients pose after the Mass, from left: Lisa Shelley, MACCW president, Cristina Cherizel, Sherily Francois, Audena Jean, Emma Dorestan, Marie Blerge, Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Beatrice Cabrale, Irene Ulysses, Clermita Jules and Caridad Francois.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Layette recipients pose after the Mass, from left: Lisa Shelley, MACCW president, Cristina Cherizel, Sherily Francois, Audena Jean, Emma Dorestan, Marie Blerge, Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Beatrice Cabrale, Irene Ulysses, Clermita Jules and Caridad Francois.


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