The Missions: San Francisco and San José

Unless the mission is oriented by charity, that is, unless it springs from a profound act of divine love, it risks being reduced to mere philanthropic and social activity...Consequently, being missionaries means loving God with all one's heart, even to the point, if necessary, of dying for him. - Pope Benedict XVI

where to begin? six and a half weeks into consecutive visitors from the usa, 5 weeks into Lent, 50 scheduled Masses this month, confessions twice a week, bible study, youth groups, and all the other stuff that goes into running this place has kept me quite busy. however, here is a blog worthy story, ATTENTION, NOT FOR CHILDREN:

a young teacher from sabana cruz was murdered and his motorcycle stolen on 22 feb. his father came to me asking for help in getting to hinche, haiti, where he had heard that the police had two haitians and one dominican in custody, along with the motorcycle and the gun he had been carrying. the murder was not one of simple theft, he was cut up with machetes and shot brutally. the police and other autorities here could not help him other than going through international channels. so, they all asked me if i could go over and see what was going on in hinche. i reluctantly agreed. after speaking to fr ronel from thomassique a date was set and i headed out on my motorcycle to thomassique, armed with the papers for the motorcycle, the gun, and a letter from the father of the man who died to the local police. we spoke to the local police there and they assured us that someone was in jail, but just haitians. so, off to hinche we traveled. upon arriving we went directly to the police station and immediately identified the motorcycle. it was pretty well trashed, but we could at least read the vin on the chassis and the police agreed that it was proper bike and case.

the head inspector told us that we needed to go over to the court, as the case was in the judicial system and he had no authority to release the motorcycle to us. so, off to the justice department we went. when we arrived we were shuffled into a prosecutor's office and he told us that we would have to speak to a judge and set up a date. at this point i was content to return to banica with the info that there were two men in jail and the motorbike was there. however, fr ronel saw someone who then spoke to the commisioner and he invited us into his office to discuss the case. as we were waiting i handed the letter the father had given me to a judge who stopped and was asking us questions. he took it and read it and handed it back to me. he didn't say anything, as the letter was in spanish and he didn't read spanish. as the wait grew i decided to read the letter.

it went something like this:

"dear haitian police,

my name is so-and-so and my son was killed on feb 22. i have kidnapped 4 haitian businessmen and if the two men in jail are not brought to the dominican republic i will kill them. i repeat, you have 72 hours to bring them to banica or i will kill the haitians i have captive."

goodness gracious, i thought to myself, it's a good thing i didn't give this to anyone else. quickly stuffing the letter into my pocket we entered the commissioner's office. as we began to discuss the case two men were brought in, handcuffed and angry. apparently we were to begin a grand jury investigation into the case right then and there. 1.5 hours later it was determined that i had the choice of taking the motorcycle and setting the men free or doing nothing. i told them all (at this point there are hundreds of people in the office and outside listening) that i had no authority and i simply wanted a phone number that i could give to the dominican authorities so they could proceed through the proper channels.

needless to say, after returning to banica and meeting with the father and the local prosecutor and reading them the riot act for allowing that letter to be carried by me (and assuring that it was just a bogus threat...), things seem to be in progress.

the interesting part of all this is that without the help of myself and the haitian priests no one would have been able to have done anything because of the lack on international cooperation in a case like this. all parties seem to be content and the case seems to be proceeding well.


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