The Rev. John MacQuarrie, pastor for all Springfield and South Charleston Catholic churches, said he does Mass at five churches, and Haitian immigrants attend all of them.
He said, “When they gather and sing, they’re very joyous.”
“It very soon became obvious — it’s been a year now we’ve been really seeing them (Haitians), and I’m sure the influx was before that where the growth has been considerable — we have to meet their spiritual needs,” MacQuarrie said.
MacQuarrie said it is important for Catholics to attend confession, be able to receive spiritual counsel and to have baptisms — all in a language they fully understand.
Anyone is welcome to attend the Mass intended to serve the Haitian community, which has grown over the last five or six years to an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 people.
“Our parish is looking forward to serving the community, befriending new people, and sharing in their culture,” the St. Joseph/St. Raphael Parish shared on Facebook.
Valcin received special permission to put on the Mass, as Springfield is part of the Cincinnati diocese and Valcin is in the Columbus diocese, MacQuarrie said.
MacQuarrie said Valcin is a Haitian immigrant and has been in the U.S. for more than 10 years. He described the priest as a “joyful man” and said he will give the Mass in Springfield right after doing one or two in downtown Columbus.
“I’m very, very happy we’ve got him,” MacQuarrie said.
Future Haitian Creole language Masses will likely be planned, but a schedule and specific future plans are dependent on Sunday’s turnout and the needs that are expressed, MacQuarrie said. He said if 100 people turn out, he will be “jumping up and down,” but he will be happy if 50 people attend.
“We want them to understand that we’re there for them,” MacQuarrie said.
MacQuarrie said the church is working on getting the word out through Facebook and the community. He said he wants the Haitian immigrant community to know that they are cared for and wanted here.
“Jesus’ arms are wide open for everyone; the gospel is universal,” MacQuarrie said. “It should be brought everywhere.”