What a wonderful opportunity I had tonight! Fr. Frantz Desruisseaux was celebrating his 35 years as a priest with a beautiful mass that blended the English, Spanish, and French Creole communities of St. Joseph Church…MY church. The church that my in-laws were married in, the church my parents brought us to when they moved to Norwalk, the church that I was married in, the church that housed the school I started my career in, the church I baptized my children in, and the church my sisters got married in. I love St. Joseph. It takes me to a deeply familiar place.
When Fr. Frantz came to St. Joseph, I just remember his smile, his booming voice, and loud spoken words that I could hardly understand. This native French was foreign to my ear. That was 27 years ago. And when I brought my first born, Stephanie, to church for baptism, he took her in his arms and promised he’d take care of her anytime I needed a break. He loved babies and I loved him!
The priest who said the full homily spoke about the 3 meanings of the word priest. First, TO TEACH. Second, TO SANCTIFY YOURSELF, and third, TO LEAD. He talked about Fr. Frantz’s promise to do all three in his ministry, but most of all to bring Joy to OTHERS in that ministry. By looking around at the crowd, the Spanish and Haitian community, the English men and women I recognized from my childhood, I would say, Fr. Frantz has accomplished these goals and expectations. It was beautiful!
So, Mass was a special treat for me to be there in his presence with his family and friends.
His mom was there. She is 94 years old and lives in Canada. He was so proud to have him become a priest. Following the homily, Fr. Frantz spoke…that is when I lost it. He explained to the full church who his family members were and made special mention of each of them, but when he got to his mom, he simply said, “Mom, I am your son. I am your priest. I love you.” My Lord, I started crying and couldn’t stop! Sr. Francis and Sr. Lucy started scrambling for a tissue for me as Leslie started laughing at my emotional meltdown!!
The timing of this Mass was perfect for me. Ten days later I would be embarking on a new adventure….the Mission trip to Haiti with the Northeast Community Church. The enthusiasm for worship, the love of a Haitian priest, and the spirit of family and community emotionally pumped me up for my journey…..physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually!
Thank you Fr. Frantz!!