Photo caption: Shrine in memory of Father Norman Haddad.

St. Dominic Church held a very special event on Tuesday, Feb. 6—the blessing of a new shrine to St. Martin de Porres in memory of Father Norman Haddad. The shrine is the result of acknowledging the allegiance of de Porres and Haddad in the humble, compassionate care of the poor, the sick, the needy and the marginalized.

De Porres (1579-1639) lived in Lima, Peru. He was the natural son of Don Juan de Porres, a Spanish nobleman, and Ana Velazquez, a freed black slave from Panama. He inherited his mother’s features and color that were undesirable physical characteristics among his father’s prominent social class. In addition to his physical features and color, de Porres was assigned the label of being illegitimate. As an adult, de Porres had great compassion and charity for the sick and the aged, bringing the gospel of hope and healing to those who were orphaned and homeless in the slums and barrios of Lima, to those suffering from stigmatized illnesses or lifestyles. His influence in caring for the poor and the sick of Lima resulted in the establishment of an orphanage and a children’s hospital. De Porres also had a devotion to all God’s creatures, especially those who were suffering. He had a special affection for animals, which is often displayed in Dominican iconography.

Haddad (1933-2016) was ordained on June 9, 1961, at St. Dominic Church where he served first as parochial vicar from 1962-1972, and then as pastor from 1981-1993. In 2008, he returned to St. Dominic to an active retirement, engaging in many ministries in the city and serving as sub-prior of the Dominican community. Haddad is remembered for many things in Southwest from his association with the Southwest community to his famous yard sales.

Brother Ignatius Perkins made the following comments at a presentation following the blessing: “If we have been awakened and informed of systemic changes in our world today, we cannot help but be aware of the plight of the poor, the disenfranchised, the unwanted and the unloved. We find such persons in our families, in the places where we work, in our neighborhoods and cities, and indeed throughout the world.”

The new shrine welcomes all who identify with the background and history of de Porres; or desire his intercession for their particular needs. The St. Martin de Porres Society at St. Dominic Church continues the legacy of de Porres and Haddad through efforts of service to the poor and needy.

By: Father George P. Schommer

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