A Day Off From The Vineyard

By Fr Edito Casipong CICM

Fr. Edito Casipong, CICM is a Filipino missionary assigned in Haiti since 1994 and now serves in the Parish of St. Louis on the island of Gonave. Here he shares with us how important it is for missionaries to take a break once in a while.

Becoming a workaholic is one of the dangers that face many priests and religious in the world today. These are people who have a strong compulsion to work and tend to feel guilty when they are not doing something. I can’t be sure of the reason or reasons – perhaps they are occupied or even fixated on the “urgency of the kingdom”. This urgency demands an immediate and decisive response, without delays or excuses. As the gospel of Luke says: “No one who puts the hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9: 62)

There are very likely many other reasons as well. Yet the reality remains that we are limited. We do tire; we do get burned out.

Day off for laborers

Aware of this reality we, the pastoral team of La Gonave, decided we needed to “waste” some time. We are a team of eight people: three CICMs, three Brothers of Incarnation, and two diocesan members – a brother and a deacon. We agreed to set aside one day each month for this purpose. Each parish takes turns in being responsible for the plans of the day. All our members are convinced that recreation is an integral part of our pastoral and missionary involvement. So we give it a significant place in our ministry.

The island of La Gonave is approximately 354 miles long and 9 miles wide. It is situated about 15 minutes west of the national capital of Port-au-Prince, La Gonave has two parishes: St. Isidore is located in Anse-a-Galets, which is on the northeastern side of the island, and St. Louis King of France, which is located in Pointe-a-Raquettes on the southwestern side.

Beach escapade

Last December it was Anse-a-Galets turn to show its talents and creativity in organizing that very important and most awaited recreation day. They proposed that we go to a beach on the island called Point Sable. A two-hour distance by motorboat, the beach was ideal because it was situated right between the two parishes.

Away from the real world

The place was marvelous, uninhabited and beautiful – a kind of paradise. The white sand and the crystal-clear seawater were breathtaking. Everyone was glad to see each other. There was a mood of celebration. The provisions were brought ashore, a fire was lit, music was played…the real thing had begun. We danced, cracked jokes, laughed, ate, sang and swam. The sound of Haitian music (calledcompas) and the semi-wild but still cultured noise of the recreation echoed from both ends of the beach. The whole place was filled with a festive spirit.

Here, we were all very at ease. There was no pretense, no masks, no role playing – just ourselves. We were all happy and free from all problems and concerns. We also felt a deep communion with each other, with nature and with the Creator.

Battery recharged, relationships renewed

As all beginnings have their end, at around 3:30 pm everyone started to prepare for home. Although tired and exhausted, we returned home with great contentment and renewed energy and enthusiasm toward resuming our pastoral and missionary activities.

Rejuvenation is so important. It truly gives one the opportunity to refresh relationships, rebuild the spirit and review our commitments and how we approach them. We are rejuvenated and ready to serve once again!

Salamat sa Missionhurst