Jean-Jacques “Jacky” Merlian, a member of the Redemptorists’ English-speaking Region, died on July 19, 2021, at age 39 and two months. Born in Grand Bois, Ouest, Haiti, on May 22, 1982, to Jean and Marguerite (Pierristal), he was baptized on February 12, 1983, at St. Pierre de Grand-Bois. He was confirmed on May 28, 2000, in the Cathedral at Port-au-Prince. He attended the College Placide Louvadure and graduated in 2003.
Through the assistance of several benefactors, Father Merilan came to the Redemptorists through Trinidad after being interviewed by Brothers Jeffrey Rolle, C.Ss.R., and Leonard Samuel, C.Ss.R., and by September 2005 he began to discern while in residence at the Blessed Peter Donders Formation Residence in Christiansted, St. Croix.
He enrolled briefly at the University of the Virgin Islands in the Fall of 2006. In June 2007, he arrived in Trinidad for a seven-week immersion with Father Peter Hill and Brother Gerard St. Hillaire at St. Theresa’s Church. I
n addition to his parochial work there, he assisted the Missionaries of Charity to help in their soup kitchen and worked with a youth camp.
The Missionaries of Charity were particularly special to Father Jacky as he was given shelter by them for many years as a boy and he even attempted to join this order but could not obtain the required visa to Mexico for seminary studies.
His path as a Redemptorist was made clear and he entered the pre-novitiate program at Whitestone, New York, in August 2007. He undertook studies in philosophy at St. John’s University and later theology at Boston College, from which he obtained his M.Div. in 2015.
In the spring of 2014, he engaged in pastoral ministry at Our Lady of Grace in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and during the summer on the Island of St. Lucia.
He professed his vows on August 11, 2010, and was ordained to the diaconate by Archbishop Joseph Tobin on October 11, 2014, at the Church of St. Ignatius in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
He was ordained on May 31, 2015, at the Church of Saint Gérard de Carrefour-Feuilles by Cardinal Chibly Langlois. He celebrated his first Mass in the Chapel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of the Missionary Sisters of Charity on June 1, 2015.
He was assigned to St. Anne, Massacre, Dominica, and to St. Joseph in Dominica.
Fr. Pat Lynch was his spiritual director during those early years of formation, then Fr. Ken Gaddy, and finally Fr. Carlyle Blake.
It was his maternal grandfather who taught him to pray. He took as his model this layperson, “the star of my life,” who did so much for his local church. Jacky was devoted to his family of four brothers and six sisters, but also considered his Redemptorist community to be his “second family.”
Father Jacky, an avid soccer fan, also spoke French, Creole, English, and Spanish.
In 2010, he composed his spiritual autobiography under the editorial guidance of Fr. Aaron Meszaros, C.Ss.R., and entitled it “The Spiritual Auto-biography of the Little One.”