The vigil of the diocese of Milan for the Day of Missionary Martyrs will be dedicated in particular to Sister Luisa Dell’Orto, a little sister of the Gospel killed in Haiti on June 25, 2022. Here is what she wrote a few months before her death to her community: «Why stay here? Why expose yourself to “risk”? Wouldn’t it be better for people to solve her problems themselves? We cannot keep silent about what we have seen and heard»
It is especially dedicated to her, Sister Luisa Dell’Orto, the vigil that the Ambrosian Church proposes on March 24 – Day of Martyr Missionaries – in Valmadrera, in the province of Lecco. Little sister of the Gospel was killed in that Port-au-Prince which, as we have told many times on this site, is prey to local gang violence. Sister Luisa, who would have turned 65 a few days later, was the soul of Kay Chal, “Casa Carlo”, built in a suburb of the Haitian capital to offer hope to street children. Originally from Lomagna – in that same Lecco Brianza where Father Fausto Tentorio, a PIME missionary killed in the Philippines in 2011, also came from – Sister Luisa had been in Haiti since 2002, after having already carried out her apostolate first in Cameroon and then in Madagascar. Last October from Haiti you wrote to the missionary group that supported your work this letter on the dramatic situation in the country, but also on the meaning of your presence and of being missionaries. We propose it below, emphasizing how her death came just a month after the canonization of Fratel Charles de Foucauldto whose spirituality the Little Sisters of the Gospel are inspired: like Brother Charles, Sister Luisa also gave her life to the end for the little ones she loved in the name of Jesus.
many of you are concerned about what is happening in Haiti and how I was able to resume activities when I returned to the country. I thank you for so much attention and solicitation and I am sure of so much prayer and intercession. Here it is late afternoon and I have just returned from shopping at the supermarket which is located on the main artery, not far from where I am, about ten minutes by car, forty-five minutes on foot and since the distant days of the earthquake I have had to walk because… there is neither petrol nor diesel in the distribution pumps. I bought some spare canned goods since they are not giving electricity in the area and therefore nothing can be kept in the fridge.
You will tell me that I am a bit crazy, given the insecurity situation, to go out like this but I assure you that we were almost all on foot and that the move was ‘mandatory’ because some unions and population groups called for a three-day strike’ it lasted from 25 to 28 October with demonstrations, blockade of roads and then four days of blockage of activities; a pause for November 1st and 2nd to honor the dead and then restart of the blockade if the government does not take decisions against insecurity and lack of fuel at the pumps….
Crazy… but this is the logic in which the country fell or was led… also because the only sure thing is that the kidnappings will continue as the gangs don’t go on strike…
Here is the dislocated country that I found! The population is left to its own devices and tries to find a way to live, to do some commerce, to work… A capacity for resilience that has its roots in that overwhelming suffering of having been uprooted from one’s own and transported to an unknown land to work as slaves…For my part, for now I can go and teach at the institute of the Salesian fathers, a half hour’s drive from home (it’s the only journey I make); the rest of the commitments are in the neighborhood and the center occupies all the days.
If there weren’t many children at the end of September, in recent weeks they have come in greater numbers for lessons and the last two Friday afternoons many (and wild) have returned to play, a sign that parents still consider the center a safe place for boys and who are committed to protecting it.
This is the strength and the hope of our area: the entire vast territory of the parish still seems to be sufficiently protected from kidnappings, more attention must be paid to demonstrations and unrest.
This is how I manage to be present to people, to be with them and with the kids to whom, as always, we want to offer an even more necessary place for growth in this moment of confusion and tension that destabilizes the school, which is already closed for the week last week and certainly next week, if the strike announcement is made.
Inflation is high and all basic necessities have risen in price… all that your generosity has given me I am slowly redistributing for food, school and sickness.
Why stay here? Why expose yourself to ‘risk’? What is the point of living in such discomfort? Wouldn’t it be better for people to solve their own problems? “We cannot keep silent about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4, 20) This morning, the clerk who reads the electricity meter (as he used to do with us) came for his reading and we talked a little about the situation of the country, at one point he came out with this expression: “Sister Luisa, here in the neighborhood you can ‘lying on the ground‘, that is sleeping peacefully on the floor in the middle of the street and nobody will do anything to you because everyone knows that you do something for them and that they can count on you in case of need” …unexpected and I was moved.
Being able to count on someone is important for living! And bearing witness that one can count on the solidarity that is born of faith and love for God and from the love of God is the greatest gift we can offer. But what the lord of electricity said, he didn’t say it just for me but for each of you because it’s you who help, it’s you they can count on through your sharing and your gift.
Yes, we are missionaries together, in the daily life, in gestures of presence and attention, in prayer. May our intercession help this people find a way out that is worthy and full of humanity. Good day to…all of us missionaries! With affection, remembering you in prayer,
your little sister Luisa