Father Antoine Macaire Christian Noah, a Claretian priest from Cameroon, escaped unharmed from a crime gang that had kidnapped him in Haiti last month and has been taken to another country for his safety. 

On March 2, Father Fausto Cruz Rosa, major superior of the Antilles Delegation of the Claretian Missionaries, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, that Macaire “was kidnapped [and] held in isolation for 10 days in an abandoned house on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince,” the Haitian capital.

“On the 10th day, when [the kidnappers] had left, he was able to escape. The criminals went out frequently at night and left him locked up in one of the houses that gangs usually take over in Haiti,” he explained.

Macaire, 33, who was ordained fewer than two years ago, was kidnapped the morning of Feb. 7 when he was on his way to his missionary community in Kazal, about 20 miles north of Port-au-Prince.

He is currently in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, where he was sent and received by his congregation.

Cruz recounted that around 1 a.m. local time on Feb. 17, Macaire had to make a hole in the ceiling of the room where he had been confined to get outside, and then he started running until he reached a road.

“He ran a lot until 5:30 a.m., until he reached a neighboring town called Cabaret. There, a well-known priest took him in at the parish. He was there for a few days until we managed to take him to the island of Gonave, and later to the capital, heading toward the airport,” he said.

According to Cruz, the young priest was returning to Haiti after conducting the spiritual exercises for his delegation in the Dominican Republic.

After getting off the plane, Macaire took a bus that was intercepted by a crime gang.

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“Apparently they only took him because he’s a foreigner. That’s the strategy they always use. And then they took him to the place where they held him,” the leader of the Claretian delegation related.

Days in captivity

Cruz noted that the African priest “didn’t feel afraid because he prayed to his patron saint, St. Anthony of Padua,” as well as to St. Anthony Mary Claret and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“He is a person of much prayer, very spiritual, very serene. The kidnappers were surprised how the priest could endure, because they only gave him food four times in 10 days and a little water,” he recounted.

According to the major superior, “the prayers of the whole world” were very helpful, and he is sure that “God really intervened, because to feel that strength, that courage, that secureness, bravery is required to escape and come out unharmed.”

Cruz emphasized that Macaire is “willing to return to Haiti as soon as possible.”

“However, we’ve recommended that he be away for the time being,” he added.

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The current situation in Haiti

Haiti is involved in a deep political and social crisis. It has not had a president since July 2021, when President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated, and no new elections have been held. The struggle for power has worsened the protests and the violence carried out by armed gangs and kidnappers.

“Right now the gangs are the ones that practically hold power. The police can hardly do anything; they have even killed many of them and they’re afraid. The priests went to file a complaint and they were told that they couldn’t do anything,” Cruz explained.

According to the major superior, Macaire would ask the kidnappers why they commit such acts, and they replied that “the situation is complicated” and that they “don’t see a future.”

“We now pray for the kidnappers, for their conversion and for the whole situation of insecurity and violence that the Haitian people are going through. We pray that the Lord will continue to hear us and that soon the country will find some way out of the conflict,” Cruz concluded.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.