Diary of a Ghetto Priest | Gone to Heaven, beloved Brother Marc Maurice
No self-consciousness, black as a brother can be, chubby and full of good cheer, Brother Maurice was most beloved in our community. His generosity was without limit; if 12 requests were made of him for the day - whether it be driving a truck, picking up food, bringing a homeless person to the hospital - Brother did it all with good cheer.
"Brother Marc, why are you always happy?" we would ask.
He would burst out laughing. "Because God made me so. My parents brought me up Catholic and Christian. There were so many kind priests, sisters, brothers. They were the kindest people. I wanted to be like them."
Brother Marc did not waver in his vocation. He entered Missionaries of the Poor (MOP) on August 3, 1995, and had a most happy life until the Lord took him on May 16, 2018.
Though cheerful, he was never giddy. Moreover, he was never morose. There seemed to be a smile ready to burst through his face, with full, round, pearly teeth and gums against that pudding-pan and wide roasted-breadfruit face. Beautiful!
Marc had gone to Uganda while I was general in Jamaica. He was strong, steady, competent and reliable there in Africa as our mission in Kampala was being established in its early stages.
Then to strengthen the mission in the Philippines, Brother Marc was sent to Manila, where he helped to settle us in San Andres Bukid - a big, overpopulated slum. When the home for the elderly, homeless and little kids who are defective and homeless in Manila was well settled, he came to Jamaica and jumped right into the position of a counsellor as part of our new administration under Brother Anil Minj.
A REMARKABLE MAN
There was a remarkable incident when there was an earthquake and hurricane in Cebu and Tacloban, Leyte. Brother Marc spoke to me and mentioned that the earthquake destroyed almost the entire city of Tacloban. No building was spared in this city. The population was decimated.
Brother Marc got permission and immediately went by boat to Leyte. The place was putrid with the smell of corpses. When he got there, he sought out the home of some Catholic sisters who ran a convent and church school in Tacloban, Leyte.
Thank God they were alive! But the buildings were destroyed. How would they rebuild? Where would they get the money? Brother Marc phoned, and he grieved at their destruction. We would help the sisters.
We collected some money in the United States and sent it over to him. He stayed at the site. The sense of death was all around. The sisters were so grateful for his presence. Slowly, they rebuilt. Brother Marc was unobtrusive and humble as he helped them organise their new convent. Then, the sunshine came once again.
Now that he has died, I have prayed to him asking for his help and advice. He should tell Jesus how much we love him and depend upon him.
Brother Marc, we are confident, is with the Lord in His heavenly kingdom. But just in case, we ask the Lord to forgive his weaknesses and sins, since we are all human and need the Lord to forgive us of our wrongs.
Brother Marc is from Jacmel, south of Port-au-Prince, two hours away by car from the main city. His town is about 48,000 people in population. Both his parents are dead, and he has two brothers who are very much in love with the Lord.
Marc had too much sugar in his chubby, cheerful body and died suddenly of a massive heart attack. He was surrounded by MOP brothers when he died in the hospital in Milot, near Cap-HaÔtien; there we have a huge mission for the homeless and destitute.
"Beloved Brother Marc Maurice,
No farewell words were spoken,
No time to say goodbye,
You were gone before we know it,
And only God knows why."
Brother Marc, you have brought good news to everyone you have ever met.
You were cheerful, joyful, and full of Christ. We will miss you, our beloved Brother Marc, until when or whenever.
You have completed your mission. Well done, brother! Pray for us until we ourselves have finished our mission.