Persevering Haitian barber rebuilds his shop amid signs of clean up

Chov Jean Jacques takes a break while workers rebuild his barber shop in Sarthe. (CNS/Bob Roller)

SARTHE, Haiti — Signs of clean up and rebuilding slowly are becoming more evident across some of the most seriously damaged neighborhoods around Port-au-Prince.

Barber Chov Jean Jacques is just one example.

We came across Jacques sitting in what was left of his tiny shop on the main street into and out of Sarthe, just north of the Port-au-Prince airport. He was watching two workers — masons Roudy Pierrilus and Louis St. Ilus — rebuild the front wall of his business on the side of the road at the foot of a heavily-trafficked, creaky bridge.

He said he expected to be back in business in a week or so.

The cost to rebuild is about US $1,500, Jacques estimated.  He borrowed money to pay the workers, and the construction-supply business extended credit for the concrete blocks and cement. Once he reopens he expects to repay the loans in due time.

The construction style is typical of many of the thousands of structures that came tumbling down in the earthquake: concrete walls with simple rebar supports. If another quake hits, it will tumble down again.

But people such as Jacques deserve credit and support for the desire to persevere and continue living.

When the earth quaked, Jacques was in the middle of a haircut for a customer. Three customers were waiting their turn. All escaped unharmed but the front of the shop and most of one side wall caved in. And with it most of his furniture and equipment.

“We just can’t say anything. It’s God’s will,” he said of the Jan. 12 quake, which Haitians call “The Event.”

As for where he will get chairs for his waiting customers and a barber chair, he told me, “If you get some, send some.”

U.S. Catholic leaders call for safeguards to protect Haitian children

The heads of five major Catholic agencies that are serving Haitian earthquake victims have written to three Cabinet secretaries outlining steps they feel should be taken to protect  Haitian children who have been left alone as a result of the Jan. 12 quake.

“The compassion of the American people has been evident in their response” to these children, the agency heads wrote. “As social service providers, we believe that certain processes should be established before such children are brought to the United States and placed in adoption proceedings.”

The full text of the letter is available here. It is addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

It was signed by the heads of the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services and the International Catholic Migration Commission.

Priest says second trip to Super Bowl for him ‘humbling,’ ‘surprising’

Father Peter Gallagher, pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in Lawrenceburg, Ind., is making his second trip to the Super Bowl in four years. (CNS photo/courtesy of Indianapolis Colts)

Father Peter Gallagher, a pastor in the Indianapolis Archdiocese, says he never dreamed when he was first ordained in 1992 he’d be the chaplain for the Indianapolis Colts, much less go to two Super Bowls with the team.

“It’s humbling and surprising to me,” he tells Sean Gallagher of  The Criterion, the archdiocesan newspaper. And the priest who was chaplain for the Colts during the team’s first 20 years in Indianapolis — the late Father Patrick Kelly — has not been far from his thoughts.

“I thought of Pat in both playoff games. … I think in his own way, he’s celebrating,” Father Gallagher said.

Indianapolis Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein and New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond have placed a friendly wager on the game, and a nun-prognosticator in Indy has the Colts winning 31-22.

But not so fast. Others who predict these things say the Saints will win.  And the Saints not only have the current New Orleans archbishop in their corner, they’ve also got retired New Orleans Archbishop Philip M. Hannan as one of their biggest fans. He has been a fan since the team began as Peter Finney Jr., editor of the Clarion Herald, New Orleans archdiocesan paper, writes in his Feb. 6 column.

The archbishop, 96, was there at the beginning, when the Saints and their fans were newly minted. He also helped name the team, according to Finney. Archbishop Hannan reassured then-Gov. John McKeithen “that he did not consider the nickname sacrilegious.”

He also wrote a prayer when he was asked to offer the invocation before the Saints very first game on Sept. 7, 1967. It was against the Rams and before a crowd of 80,000. And the words are “every bit as fresh today,” writes Finney.