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First Haitian Cardinal makes visit to Boston


ROXBURY -- Members of the Haitian community in Boston packed in and overfilled the pews as Cardinal Chibly Langlois, the first cardinal from their homeland, celebrated Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, June 22, at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, commonly known as the Mission Church, on Tremont Street.

The cardinal celebrated the Mass in Haitian Creole, with Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley present to greet him at the beginning.

"We are so delighted that Cardinal Langlois is here to participate in this annual celebration of our Haitian community at Mission Church, where they are honoring Our Lady of Perpetual Help," Cardinal O'Malley told The Pilot.

As one of the youngest cardinals in the Church, and the first Haitian cardinal, Cardinal Langlois holds great significance to the Haitian community in Boston.

"I think it was an event that reenergized our Haitian Catholic community. I think it lifted them up, made them feel at touch of home, and you could certainly see everywhere that the cardinal went in the midst of the Haitian community there was a great pride that they were welcoming this man, who is now the first cardinal from Haiti," said Father Michael C. Harrington, director of the Office of Outreach and Cultural Diversity.

Pope Francis announced the appointment of Cardinal Langlois on Jan. 12, the anniversary of an earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, killed an estimated 220,000 people, and left 1.5 million homeless.

Father Harrington said the visit demonstrated the potential of the Haitian community as a contributing force in the archdiocese.

"We have a significant Haitian population here in the Archdiocese of Boston. This Haitian community has tremendous potential to be a great strength for our whole archdiocese," Father Harrington said.

After he entered Port-au-Prince's major seminary in 1985, Cardinal Langlois received ordination in 1991. In 2004, Blessed Pope John Paul II appointed him bishop of the Diocese of Fort-Liberte, before he became Bishop of Les Cayes and president of the bishops' conference in 2011.

Father Stanley Rousseau, a parochial vicar at St. John's in Cambridge and St. Ann's in Somerville with particular responsibility for the Haitian community, spoke to The Pilot after the Mass about the significance of the visit.

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