Multicultural parish holds a weekend celebration


multiculturalmass-webPhoto by Alan M. Dumoff

Haitian Bishop Chibly Langlois celebrates Mass with Father Yvans Jazon, St. Monica pastor, on Sunday, Sept. 4. The annual St. Monica Feast Day Homecoming was held at St. Monica Church, Atlantic City, Sept. 2-4.

St. Monica Parish in Atlantic City held a multicultural homecoming festival this past weekend honoring their foundress, Mother Emma Lewis, complete with ethnic food, performances from several choirs and dance groups in the Diocese of Camden, and a visit from Haitian Bishop Chibly Langlois.

Visiting the area, Bishop Langlois was invited to the celebration by Father Yvans Jazon, St. Monica pastor. The two are originally from the Diocese of Jacmel in Haiti.

The St. Monica celebration was originally to have been held Aug. 26-28 but had to be rescheduled due to Hurricane Irene.

Natural disasters are something Bishop Langlois knows about. His diocese, southwest of Haiti’s capital, was hit hard by the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake. It left the cathedral and 10 parishes seriously damaged or destroyed, and 30 chapels and mission stations in need of repair.

St. Monica is a multi-cultural parish consisting of Afro-Americans, Anglos, Haitians, Hispanics, Liberians, Nigerians, and Filipino communities.

Starting on Friday evening, Sept. 2, the Atlantic City celebration began with an ecumenical service led by Deacon Bill Johnson, with worshippers from area churches also in attendance.

The celebration continued all day Saturday, with an ethnic meal that included dishes from Haitian, Spanish, African, and American cultures. Musical presentations also entertained festival-goers, as Haitian choirs and dance groups from churches throughout the area, and African choirs, gospel choirs, praise and worship guest soloists, and youth from the Neptune Drum and Bugle Corps performed.

Praise dancers from the Haitian-American Catholic Center in Stamford, Conn., also joined in the festivities, along with a charismatic prayer group, Our Lady of Victory, from Incarnation Church in Queens Village, N.Y.

On Sunday morning, Bishop Longlois celebrated a multicultural homecoming Mass.

Saying that an estimated 350 people attended the three-day celebration, Father Jazon called the weekend “a beautiful experience.”

Along with Father Jazon, Father Paul Wise, homilist and former pastor of St. Monica, and Father Alfred Mungujakisa, parochial vicar at St. Thomas, Brigantine, concelebrated the Sunday Mass, which was celebrated in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole, with a Unity Choir, composed of singers from all three nationalities, singing together in the three languages.