Thousands gathered yesterday in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami to pay their last respects to Father Gérard Jean-Juste, the Catholic priest whose campaign for justice for Haitian immigrants in the United States made him a hero in the Haitian-American community. Jean-Juste died on May 27th of complications from a stroke. (For an updated story on Father Jean-Juste’s funeral in Haiti on June 18th, see Violence reported at Funeral for Father Gérard Jean-Juste]. He had been battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia for a number of years. The Miami Herald reports on the funeral thus:
Some 3,000 people packed the inside of Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church, while thousands more stood in the rain outside to pay tribute to the Roman Catholic priest who went from a little-known figure on a Miami street corner to the central figure in the Haitian rights struggle. They considered his legacy in shaping a young but burgeoning South Florida Haitian-American community. And they reflected on the community’s past and future.
”We had no access to power, we could not get into the doors, but we fought, we challenged the system,” said Jean-Bart. “Today, we are at the door. We have a mayor, lawyers, educated kids . . . we passed the torch.”
Mourners wore buttons and T-shirts with the words ”The Struggle Continues.” The gold casket was covered with the red and blue colors of the Haitian flag and the name of Jean-Juste inscribed on top.
Children and adults, draped in the Haitian flag, took turns standing around his coffin as the image of a younger Jean-Juste — feeding children, behind prison bars and in the streets of Miami — streamed across large plasma TVs set up inside and outside the church.
Local politicians as well as a delegation from Haiti were also present.
The theme ”Tout moun se moun,” or ”Every person is a human being,” resonated amid calls for the community to unite.
Jean-Juste will be buried next to his mother in his birth town of Cavaillon, Haiti.
For a complete report on the funeral services go to http://www.miamiherald.com/news/miami-dade/story/1085465.html?asset_id=Mourners%20remember%20Rev.%20Jean-Juste&asset_type=html_module