Brother Jim Boynton, SJ, in Haiti

Brother Jim Boynton, SJ (pictured, right), the former vocation director of the Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus (full disclosure: a good friend), recently started, after finishing up his vocation work, a new assignment in November: with Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Services in Haiti.  Jim, a friendly, hardworking, no-nonsense, compassionate and devout Jesuit Brother, has found himself in the midst of the Haitian crisis, and is also working with "Team Rubicon,"a group of "self-deployed" former Marines, soldiers and health care professionals.  Here he speaks with BBC Worldwide about the nobility of the Haitian people.  To BBC he tells this story of what he said to his home pastor before the earthquake: "I hope at some point I can get to a love for the Haitians that is not based in pity...For the last three days, I no longer have pity for them...I have love and admiration."  Here are his reflections from the Team Rubicon blog:


"He descended into Hell”.... I have said these words every time I have prayed the Creed at Sunday mass, or the rosary. I have prayed these words often, but have never understood them until now. The smell of stale death is something that until now I have only experienced in roadkill in Northern Michigan roads. Usually a raccoon or a skunk, but never a person, and never many persons. In the past 6 years I have had the honor to serve on numerous medical brigades to the garbage dumps of Guatemala and Honduras, but nothing I have ever seen or done prepared me for the sights of the last few days. I am new to Haiti, and only arrived on November 1st to work in a school. To be honest I was nervous about that, but a school in Haiti now seems no more daunting than a classroom at University of Detroit Jesuit High School, or St. Ignatius Cleveland, where I taught history for years. What is daunting now is Haiti itself. “Haiti cherie”, or “dear Haiti”, as this country is called by those who live her, is suffering. The news may report that help is being sent from all over the world, but today we are 6 days past the quake, yet at our location we were the first foreign aid to arrive. Most is bottlenecked in the airport. The only other non-Haitians I saw today were reporters from Caritas, Germany. One left his team to help us secure transportation for the wounded and in the end for ourselves.

Advertisement


“He rose from the dead”... is another part of the Creed so often prayed. There is hope, there is a resurrection. Good is stronger than bad. Today the Haitians triaged themselves in an orderly fashion, the most wounded getting to see a doctor first, something that is difficult to attain in any American hospital on any given night. The amount of gratitude on part of the wounded, their families, and strangers is overwhelming. Today 4 times I flagged a car off the street to take vital cases to the nearest operation room. Gas is over $25 a gallon, if available, but each time strangers said yes. Our return transportation failed to arrive. Strangers loaded us into two trucks to drive us to the other side of town, regardless of curfew, and regardless of looters.

“To give and not to count the cost”.... is from the prayer of St. Ignatius, the founder of my religious order. Somehow through a strange course of events, I have found myself with a group of men who are living these words to their fullest. In spite of the difficulties, the struggle for organization, and lack of everything medical, the team I am with is making an incredible difference. After today’s work many will lose limbs, some may not walk, but others had the first chance at life in 6 days.
The motivations for each of us on this team is different. I am here because of my faith in Jesus Christ. If you share my faith, I would ask that you pray for the people of Haiti, and pray for the men I am with. Please make both a prayer of thanksgiving, for the people of Haiti are beautiful, and the team is as well.  --Jim Boynton, S.J.

 James Martin, SJ

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Beth Cioffoletti
8 years 4 months ago
Haitians have always done it, but especially during this unbelievable tragedy and suffering, they are showing the rest of us what it is to be totally empty and dependent upon God and each other.  We do what we can to help them, but they show us the Way.
 
Yesterday I was talking to someone about Haiti and she said, "you know, most of them are good people, I think that it is the Voodoo that messes them up".  I thought how we, in a prosperous country, want to find some reason that the Haitian people have been "cursed".  If you are a good capitalist Christian, God rewards you with prosperity, right? 
 
Maybe it is our religion, not Voodoo, that is screw-y. 
 
I love reading about people Brother Jim Boynton, who are "converted" while in Haiti.
8 years 4 months ago
Thanks for the work your group is doing there, Bro. Jim. From what you say on that BBC podcast, there's got to be a lesson for all of us in the behavior of the Haitian people. And thanks for keeping that mic in your hand 'til you made sure you said what needed to be said! The best of the human spirit is surging up in Port-au-Prince. You made that very clear.
Maggie Goff
8 years 4 months ago
Thanks, Fr. Jim for posting this. I've been following Team Rubicon since they first posted.. They are an absolutely remarkable group of people, and more are joining as time goes on. Br. Jim I think, didn't quite know what to expect when they first got together. I would give a link to the post he made about the former military who are there with him, but I won't because I encourage everyone to go and read from the very beginning. You'll see God's hand in everything. May He keep them all safe.
PEGGY FLYNN
7 years 9 months ago
Hello Bro Boynton,

I have been researching my ancestors and their marriages in Mackinac, particularly, St Annes. In the course of my research, I've found reference to a cd which allegedly you made regarding those people and their marriages. I've tried to contact various email addresses which reference your cd but none of them appears to be valid any longer. I realize you are on a completely different mission at this time but would you please let me know if the cd is available anywhere where that I can access it or if I can obtain it anywhere. 

Best wishes on your current mission.

Peggy Flynn 

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The news from Ireland and the United States reminds us of Herod, of Pharaoh. What culture betrays its children?
The EditorsMay 26, 2018
A woman religious casts her ballot May 25 in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on its law on abortion. Voters went to the polls May 25 to decide whether to liberalize the country's abortion laws. (CNS photo/Alex Fraser, Reuters)
The repeal of Ireland's Eighth Amendment, which guarantees the right to life of the unborn, is passing by a 2-1 margin with most of the votes counted.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies at a House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The Secretary of Education stirred up controversy when she said it was up to schools to decide if an undocumented student should be reported to authorities.
J.D. Long-GarcíaMay 25, 2018
Thousands gathered in Dublin May 12 to say "Love Both" and "Vote No" to abortion on demand. They were protesting abortion on demand in the forthcoming referendum May 25. (CNS photo/John McElroy)
“Priests and bishops get verbal abuse by being told, ‘How can you speak for women? You don’t know what it’s like!’”
America StaffMay 25, 2018