History... In May 1989,
the National Convention of the Haitian Apostolate requested that all Haitian pastoral agents do more to help youth of Haitian descent to remain grounded in their Catholic faith while maintaining their Haitian identity.
On September 3rd, 1989,
257 young people gathered together from diverse parishes and named youth leaders from their communities. From this meeting Ms. Maud Percy facilitated another gathering for the youth leaders in Sacred Heart, Cambria Heights on November 12, 1989.
A new committee was formed, Association des Jeunes Haitiens Catholiques (AJHC), for the distinct purpose of working toward a new generation of young Haitian Catholics.
AJHC was given the task to contact youth groups in Brooklyn (Holy Cross, St. Francis, Our Lady of Refuge, St. Matthew, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Teresa of Avila, Holy Innocents, St. Jerome), St Joachim & Ann (Queens), Holy Name in Manhattan, St Leo and St. Matthew in Massachusetts, and from New Jersey St Patrick where the newly ordained Fr. Fritz Ligonde was assigned and the parish of St. John.
Following these contacts another meeting of youth leaders was held in Queens in April 1990 and a decision was made to plan a weekend retreat experience. The first youth Congress was held the weekend of June 29, 1990 at Pawling, NY. Sixty-seven people representing faith communities from Massachusetts, New Jersey, St. Francis, Our Lady of Refuge, St. Ignatius, Sacred Heart (Cambria Heights), and St Mary Star of the Sea (Far Rockaway) attended. Thus started the call to gather Haitian youths from across the nation annually for a Congress.
The second Congress took place in June 1991 at the Inn of the Spirit with 60 young people. The theme was: "Who is Jesus in your life?" Subsequent themes included: "Live like Jesus lived in today's world", "Give God a chance, Ayisyen renmen tet tankou Jezi renmen-nou. Ahead with Christ.""
AJHC encouraged the youth to reflect more deeply on the mystery of Christ and over two hundred spent the weekend to “Rediscover Jesus". During this congress the young people were encouraged to focus on and be open to the sacrament of penance. Over this weekend an incredible number received the “sacrament”.
A congress entitled “Fire in the Spirit”, introduced the young people to the “first Pentecost”. They were reminded through talks, workshops, prayer, and praise experiences that each of them had the opportunity to open their hearts more fully to the Holy Spirit’s transforming power. Time was spent encouraging the youth to examine their thoughts and behaviors and for them to ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen them so they can live their “Life in the Spirit.” One felt that by the end of this congress the young people had a better understanding of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Still another congress focused on God the Father and a wonderful poem by Nancye Sims entitled “God Is Never Far Away” to help convey the message.
Young people gave “Glory to the Blessed Trinity” at another congress. Every mass begins with a passage taken from 2 Corinthians 13:13; namely “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the central mysteries of our Christian faith.
A great challenge was to locate space where young people could meet their peers under supervised circumstances and spiritually provocative topics and activities could be offered. Fr. Fritz identified and negotiated with the Archdiocesan Youth Center in Kearny, NJ and all subsequent congresses have been held at that venue.
AJHC honors special spiritual mothers who constantly prayed for the leadership and the youth, as well as offered assistance during the congresses, namely: Mrs. Rosette Previl, Mrs. Irma Alexis, and Mrs. Mercie Jeanty.
As Bishop Guy Sansaricq, the founder and Executive Director of the National Center of the Haitian Apostolate, eloquently put it the purpose of the AJHC summer congresses is to bring young people to the great outdoors and open their minds and hearts to new experiences. Yes, Jesus can excite a young mind and attract a young heart. Jesus motivates and inspires. The great discovery is that true excitement is rooted inside. The mind and the heart are the bedrock of a successful life. At the weekend congresses, group leaders try to reinforce the power for love and success Jesus gives to those who believe and know that He lives within them.
As Haitian families migrated to new areas in the United States AJHC took to task the visit and assistance to newly formed Haitian Catholic communities. AJHC was an agent to developing faith communities in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Florida.
AJHC’s vision is to continually develop new faith grounded leadership in the young people who have been engaged in youth ministry. Through series of encounters AJHC maintains contact with old and new Youth ministry programs and offers technical assistance and support to the leadership. One such weekend was entitled “Empowered to lead”. Attendees were exposed to: (1). ELEMENTS OF LEADERSHIP (2). LEADERSHIP ROLES IN THE CHURCH (3). CHALLENGES IN YOUTH MINISTRY (4). VOCATION: ONE’S ANSWER TO GOD’S CALL (5). MINISTRY AND SPIRITUALITY (6). LEADING BY EXAMPLE. Thank you to some of our presenters: Carmelle Durand, Carl Durand, Berthe Leveille Tulce, Darling Previl, Nicole Rosefort, Micheline Cadet, and Sister Marilyn Minter (our and Kearny’s guitar playing nun). Today Sr. Marilyn is ministering to our brothers and sisters in Haiti.
AJHC’s commitment to Youth Ministry has expanded to the Haitian Catholic Charismatic Congress, Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Scranton Pennsylvania, Faith Formation events, Life in the Spirit seminars for young people, medical missions to Haiti, and financial support of Haitian students in Senegal.
Today’s AJHC leadership team includes the spirit of Karine Previl-Dunel, Darling Previl, Berthe Leveille-Tulce, Suzette Leveille, Jacky Guilloux, Rodrigue Israel, Reginald Magloire, and Michele Guerrier. These leaders continue to be engaged in ministry roles in their home parishes and dioceses, as well.
AJHC 25th Anniversary Collage
Tribute to Karine Previl-Dunel
Karine’s life was taken away from us too soon and it is hard to understand how it happened to this great young woman. No answer, no words as we try to accept the loss of such a dear daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, godmother, and friend. Let us take a moment to celebrate Karine’s life and remember all of the remarkable things she accomplished.
Her family states she was always the “first”. Although she was the fourth of five children, she was the first to be married, first to have children, first to become a grandparent. Next to God family was the most important in her life. She loved her husband, Frantz, and her children Frantz Antoine and Sandra. She loved talking about her grandchildren Jacob and Tillie. She enjoyed a loving relationship with each and every one of her nieces and nephews.
Karine was a hard-working, intelligent, caring and very thoughtful woman. She always had something positive to share with everyone she met. When she walked in a room she filled it with her joyful spirit and exuberant smile. She loved being around young people and officially began ministering to youth in the Catholic church in 1989. She was a founding member of the Association des Jeunes Haitiens Catholiques (AJHC) who for so many years gathered hundreds of youth nationally for a summer congress. Many of these young people today are adults who have remained connected to Karine. Some are currently youth ministers. Karine’s vision of youth ministry has enabled the youth to be more integrated in the Haitian Catholic Charismatic Congress. Her involvement with youth in the Charismatic movement extended to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Scranton.
Karine earned a BA in Marketing and worked in the garment industry for several years. In 2000 she was laid off and her company closed. She took a leap of faith and earned a second degree in Early Childhood Education. She then opened God is Good Daycare where she prepared young children for school. She ministered not only to the children under her care, teaching them how to pray and to sing “God is so good”, but also to their parents. She was featured in New York Works for Children and cited for being a great multi tasker because of her ability to juggle family life, church life, and run the day-to-day operation of her child care program.
Karine was raised in a strong Catholic family, faith and commitment to the Lord were the backbone of Karine’s entire life. Sr. Rosette, her mother, always said how rambunctious Karine was as a youngster and how she needed to always take Karine with her. She stated Karine had been a member of the Charismatic movement as long as she has been. Karine became an anchor of her commitment to Jesus as she endeavored to share her faith with all she encountered. Karine allowed herself to be led by the Holy Spirit. She was Catholic, an advocate, a teacher, a problem solver, a mentor, and a friend. Her ministry has yielded so much fruit.
Karine managed cancer with extraordinary faith. She never complained or asked why. Often times one would speak to her and she would be the one lifting your spirit. As her health deteriorated, her spirit remained very strong. She took care of everyone and everything up until she could no longer. I was told her final hours were spent with family and friends in praise and worship.
Separation is tough. Knowing that we will not see Karine or hear her distinguished voice in this life is difficult, but we take comfort knowing that she is with her Creator, at peace, and cancer free. She is probably trying to figure how she can help God reach more young people.
Let us pattern our lives after Karine whose strength was her joy of the Lord. She lived a good life and it seems she accomplished everything that God put her on this earth to do. During our last conversation with her she appeared ready for a new journey to begin. We had no clue. Her memory will always be in our hearts, and her legacy will live on because of the way she finished the race and how she kept the faith.
Dear sister, you will forever be in our thoughts and prayers.
Que la terre te soit legère!
Eternal Rest grant unto Karine O Lord and may the perpetual light shine on her.
Little Angels of God 25th Anniversary Holy Cross Church 9/30/2018
"Tribute to Judith Montperous with Radakka and the Believers 11/24/2018 @ Our Lady of Refuge, Brooklyn."