Vincentian Family Haiti Commission meets in Phildelphia. – The Commission of the Vincentian Family Haiti Initiative met at St. Vincent’s Seminary in Philadelphia earlier this month as they closed the fiscal year and marked the end of its first three- year strategic plan.
From left: Fr. Raphael Verlux, C.M., Denise Mattson (DePaul University), Griselda Garibay, Sister Iliana Monroig, D.C., Fr. Joseph Agostino, C.M., Yasmine Cajuste, Gene Smith (SSVDP), Fr. Joseph Foley and Regine Theodat.
Behind the scenes with Sister Iliana
Sister Carmen Iliana Monroig, D.C., from a Puerto Rican family, joined the Vincentian Family Haiti Initiative Commission in April 2014, bringing with her a thirty-year career of service to the most disadvantaged.
Her work as a nurse and Daughter of Charity has put her in direct contact with the reality of social problems and what patients face, and has given her the opportunity to serve with warmth, professionalism, and the evangelical spirit. She has been a member of various committees (Hospital Board of Directors, Ethics, Organ Donation, and Pastoral) and an administrator (Director for the Geriatric Center in San Rafael, Puerto Rico). In these different roles, she has strengthened her calling, her profession, and her talents.
Within the Vincentian Family and the Church, Sister Carmen Iliana has helped strengthen VMY in Puerto Rico,
participated in the Diocesan Pastoral Vocation [Council], and assumed the office of Serving Sister (superior of the house) on different occasions. Since her arrival in Haiti seven months ago, she has tended directly to the sick in cooperation with the Center for Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. She is also a member of the Health Commission for the Caribbean and the local health commission of Haiti.
Through her nursing work, Sister Iliana is learning about and discovering this Caribbean country. She points out the extreme poverty that so many people live in; the Haitians’ capacity for overcoming tragic situations; their ability to learn; and their amazing sense of celebration, which they have despite the difficult situations that surround them.
Sister Iliana values the work she is doing for the Vincentian Family Haiti Initiative Commission, “the great effort made to heed the call of the superiors and now Pope Francis to reach out to the most remote and peripheral areas.” She knows that organizations like VFHI, which offer more than a response to urgent and immediate needs, are necessary to help rebuild the country.
As a Commission member, Sister Iliana had the opportunity to visit the fish farm project facilities in La Hoye. She shares her impressions: “Despite the hazardous roads, it was a very good experience. The area chosen for the project seems very poor and isolated. It was amazing
to see the number of women who travel to the market by horse to sell what they harvest. I think that a lot can be accomplished if we work hard and collaborate with Haitian organizations that want to serve and help the poor. It’s like putting an industry in an unindustrialized area. It’s opening new paths and possibilities so that families living there have hope.”
Sister Iliana realizes that VFHI faces many challenges but that it also has the support of people who are highly qualified in human and spiritual matters. She reminds us of Pope Francis’s words: “Challenges are meant to be overcome. Let’s be realistic but without losing our joy, audacity, and unshakable optimism. We shouldn’t let the missionary force be taken from us.” (Evangelii Gaudium, #109).