It’s been four years since retired Catholic Priest Stephen Blum has been to Haiti. Prior to that, he made 10 trips as a missionary to the island nation in the Caribbean Sea.
It saddens him to see what’s happening today with the Mawazo gang kidnapping 17 members of a missionary group and threatening to kill them unless they receive a $17 million ransom — $1 million for each person.
Such things are not unusual in Haiti. Its history is consumed by resistance, revolt, and instability. It’s been said that when a person dies, if he or she doesn’t go to heaven, they’re sent to Haiti — a true hell on earth. If things weren’t bad enough, an earthquake that is believed to be the worst natural disaster in the nation’s history occurred Jan. 12, 2010, killing an estimated 300,000 people, injuring more than 200,000, and leaving more than 1.5 million homeless.
The fact that Haiti is located just a two-hour plane ride off the coast of the United States – the richest nation in the world — is not lost on Blum.
“As Americans, we as a people realize we’re fortunate, yet at the same time, do we realize how much,” he said.
He’s moved by the resilience of the Haitian people.
“When you do a pilgrimage, they take you to different areas where they’re going to build villages or schools or churches. They show you the ministry and maybe you interact with the kids in the orphanages and the old people in the villages where they live. Sometimes you will give out food.
“If we’re to build a church or school or whatever, we provide the money, but we don’t actually do any of the work. They will have a supervisor on hand to help instruct their people on how to do things. They’ll have the Haitian people do the work.”
Missionary work has been a calling for Blum, and he plans to return to Haiti when things stabilize. He’s financing a young student through medical school in the Dominican. He’s been living in Delphos since retiring from St. Charles in Lima. He’s spent many of his weekends the last few years working with the national Food for the Poor program out of Coconut Creek, Florida. It has him flying across the country to speak to groups.
Last week saw him take a week off to attend a magic convention in Poling, Michigan.
“I’ve had puppets I’ve used to entertain children,” he said. “Now I may add a magic trick or two.”
ROSES AND THORNS: An “old goat” gets a salute from the rose garden.
Rose: To James Sullivan, of Lima, who will celebrate his 100th birthday on Friday. Sullivan was a fighter pilot during World War II, but insists he wasn’t a war hero. The real heroes, Sullivan told The Lima News in a story four years ago, “are the guys who never made it back.” Sullivan said he’s “just an old goat who now tries to get through each day without falling down.”
Rose: To Berlin Carroll, administrator for the Allen County Probate Court. When Emma and John Yohe’s long quest to adopt a child hit a year-long snag due to the pandemic and other things, Carroll stepped in and assured the young couple “we’re going to get this pushed through.” The adoption took place last Monday.
Rose: To Jesse Pope, whose work with Lima youth earned him the Community Legacy Award during the Community Enrichment Dinner.
Rose: To Frank Lamar, a former Perry Township Trustee, who reflected on the June 7 passing of his wife of 23 years, Mrs. Darlene Patricia Lamar. “When you have a wife who also is your best friend, you cannot beat that. I’m a heartbroken man.”
Rose: When it comes to high school sports in Putnam County, Kalida and Ottoville are longtime rivals. Outside of league play it’s a different story, Ottoville School superintendent Scott Mangas recently observed. During the state golf tournament, Kalida finished their round before the Ottoville team, but waited to greet the Ottoville team before leaving. A similar act occurred during the sectional volleyball tournament when the Kalida team stuck around to cheer on Ottoville, who played after them.
Thorn: One can only wonder about the large percentage of suspected criminals who wear masks during their court hearings. Are they afraid of COVID or the media’s cameras?
PARTING SHOT: There’s no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.