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|First published July 11, 2001, and later, July 18-25, 2001, in The Haiti-Observateur|
|In memory of Léandre Jeannot, first Boston's|
|Haitian Monsignor and 'man of the people'|
|By YVES A. ISIDOR|
Cambridge, Massachusetts - It would be possible for me to write a fairly interesting memoir about Leandre Jeannot, Boston's first Haitian Monsignor and a man who, members of the Boston's Haitian-American community, in their habits, preferred to call "the man of the people." So, rather, a short biography, dealing with his life, including his career as a simple priest and Monsignor.
Jeannot died on July 8th, at 5:15 p.m., in Boston after suffering for years from colon cancer.
Jeannot, aged 72, was born in Haiti on March 11th 1929 in the town of Saut d'Eau. The son of Gregroire L. Jeannot, a notary public and mayor of that town for more than 15 years, and Lucie Dorilas, years later became a member of the Salesian order in the Dominican Republic.
"It was a love at first. Total and absolute," Jeannot, who left Haiti in 1959, once told me of his interest from an early age to serve God. In 1970, he completed his theology studies in Lyon, France. He was ordained a priest on March 11th of that year in Medelin, Colombia, which he would a few months later leave to become a priest at the St. Teresa of Avila parish in Brooklyn, New York.
In 1972, Jeannot was transferred to St. Leo's Church, situated in the Boston's Dorchester section in the state of Massachusetts, from the Lakes parish, in New Jersey, where he began serving in the capacity of a priest, in 1971.1996 was the year when Jeannot, whose three brothers also entered the priesthood, became the administrator of St. Leo's Church and its pastor as well. One year later, 1997, he was appointed pastor of St. Matthew's Church, too. To use the very few words usually apply to persons serving in more than one capacity, he was "a man of many harts," and effective, too.
Many Boston's Haitian-Americans happily called him "Pe Jeannot" or "father Jeannot," even after the title of Monsignor, a respectable position, was conferred on him by Pope John Paul II, the successor of the Apostle Peter (Jesus selected Peter as his rock and chief Apostle in the Gospel of Matthew), in 1998.
|St. Mathew's Church|
Jeannot, who could also count two of his sisters among the Congregation of the Daughters of Divine Wisdom - a religious institute of women devoted to the care of the destitute, founded by Saint-Louis Marie de Monfort - will not be remembered, and this for many years, by the Boston's Haitian-American community because he was a Monsignor, but for his lifelong obsession with rendering services, including advising and consoling husbands and wives in time of distress, to members of that community he so considered his sons, his brothers, his sisters, his fathers, and mothers.
Monfort, born poor 31 January 1673 at Monfort-La-Cane, Brittany France; he studied in Paris, France, for the priesthood; he wrote a miraculously inspiring book, True Devotion to Mary, including The Secret of the Rosary, which remains famous, even today; he preached forcefully and effectively against the errors of Jansenism that was expelled from several dioceses in France; and, Pope Clement XI conferred on him the title and authority of Missionary Apostolic, which enabled him to continue his apostolate after returning to France, according to catholic-forum.com.
Monfort, who was canonized in 1947 by Venerable Pope Pius XII, founded a missionary band known as the Company of Mary. He died in 1716 at Saint-Laurent-Sur-Sovre, France, also according to catholic-forum.com.
So will I miss Monsignor Jeannot, too. I hope he rests in peace. May God bless his soul!
Certainly he was a churchman and servitor of God, but he always dreamed of a democratic Haiti. Too bad he expires without having the opportunity to say aloud "Will the dictators ever attempted to gain power again in Haiti, as Saint-Louis would have said, so much more shall the new Eve triumph over them and crush their heads. Finally, Haiti is now a democracy. No more dictators! They are all now confined to the archives of history. Surprise, surprise, God will (hopefully) keep them all in hell with Satan. Please God, please God, may you continue to bless Haiti by defeating the dictators?"
A funeral Mass, celebrated by Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law, for "Pe Jeannot," as I always called him, too, will be said Saturday at 12 p.m. at St. Matthew's church, in Dorchester.
Yves A. Isidor teaches economics at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and is spokesperson for We Haitians United We Stand For Democracy, a Cambridge-based nonpartisan political pressure group.
*Editor's notes: In reference to the death of Monsignor Jeannot, below are exerts from a July 14, 2001, page B 1-4, Boston Globe's news article, entitled: Haitians remember monsignor. Such article was written by Boston Globe staff writer Megan Tench:
Yves Isidor, spokesperson for We Haitians United We Stand For Democracy, a Cambridge-based nonpartisan political group, recalls similar conversations with Jeannot.
"Certainly he was a churchman, but he always dreamed of a democratic Haiti," said Isidor. "Too bad he expires without having the opportunity to say aloud, "Finally, Haiti is now a democracy. No more dictators!"
Isidor also recalls speaking with Jeannot about serving God.
"'It was a love at first. Total and absolute,' Jeannot once told me," Isidor said.
"Jeannot will not be remembered, and this for many years, by the Boston's Haitian-American community because he was a monsignor, but for his lifelong obsession with rendering services, including advising husbands and wives in time of distress," said Isidor. To members of that community he so considered his sons, his brothers, his sisters, his fathers, and mothers. So will I miss him too. I hope he rests in peace."
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