Mass on Hammonton farm for Haitian farmworkers


Photos by Alan M. Dumoff


In photos, a choir of immigrant farmworkers leads the congregation in song; Father Yvans Jazon talks with workers after the Mass.

The evening liturgy was organized by the Black Catholic Ministry Commission and St. Monica Parish, which serves many Haitian Catholics in Atlantic City.

The Mass was celebrated in the Haitians’ native Creole language for more than 300 people. The celebration was an opportunity to minister to Catholic farmworkers and also to bring God’s message and love to the non-Catholic farmworkers.

“As foreigners, when you find food to physically feed the body, and find food to nourish the mind and spirituality, it’s something great,” said Father Jazon, who reminded the Haitian farmworkers that “this is our church,” among the blueberries, living quarters, and hot sun.

“The Haitian community has a hunger for the Eucharistic, and for the church,” he said.

After Mass, dinner was served with a variety of native Haitian dishes, prepared by St. Monica parishioners and other supporters of the Haitian community.

The migrant farmworkers, who were bussed up to Hammonton from Florida, some with their families, will stay until the end of the harvest, which ends in August. After this, they and their families will head back to Florida, or to Maine for the blueberry harvest, or to Michigan.

Trish Best, a volunteer at St. Monica Church. is part of the Hand to Hand in Haiti Missionary program, which for the past two years, with Father Jazon, has made mission trips to the country and helps those affected by the 2010 earthquake.

On July 1, she was in Hammonton, bringing and serving food to the farmworkers as a “thank you” for all their hard work.

“They have worked hard here over the years, providing (the community) with delicious food,” she said. “They are our brothers and sisters.”

“I was moved by the calm and gentle spirit of the people,” said Corlis Sellers, associate director of Lifelong Faith Formation for Black Catholics, and Liaison to the Bishop for the Black Catholic Ministry Commission.

“It is an honor and privilege to bring the gift of the Holy Eucharist to these men, women, and children of God,” she said.