By Emily Drooby
With the help of music, prayer, and soup; members of the Haitian community celebrated their independence on New Year’s Day at St. Jerome Church in East Flatbush.
Reverend Saint Charles Borno, the coordinator of the Haitian Apostolate of the Brooklyn Diocese, explained, “It is important for the people because it’s a way to show their nationalistic way of expressing Haiti as part of our lives even if we are living in other places, but we still love the country and we want to share that moment with other Hattians and anybody else who can come.”
The annual Independence Day Mass, which is held at a different location every year, celebrated an uprising in Haiti that helped the country to gain independence from France 215 years ago.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio celebrated the Mass along with priest and deacons from across the diocese. The homily was delivered by Deacon Jean Jocelyn Rameau.
The church was packed for the Mass, which was celebrated in French Creole and French. The hymn, Te Deum, was also performed in Latin.
Bishop Nicholas Dimarzio, said, “At the end of the Mass they sing the Te Deum which is very beautiful in Latin, which they know by heart, so they have a lot of deep religious tradition in Haiti that they bring with them to our Dioceses.”
Following Mass, congregants shared soup joumou, a special dish slaves were not allowed to have.
Reverend Saint Borno explained, “The first thing that the slaves did now that they are free, they want to enjoy that same food that the masters would not allow them to have.”
The pumpkin soup is always consumed on Haiti’s Independence Day as a way to recognize and celebrate their freedom.