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Haiti After the Earthquake- A 'Canvas Seminary' Opens


Port-au-Prince's Cathedral and dozens of other churches were destroyed in the earthquake
Port-au-Prince's Cathedral and dozens of other
churches were destroyed in the earthquake

The earthquake devastation that flattened port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti, on 12 January continues to affect relief efforts in this shattered nation where an estimated 1 million homeless people are living in the open or in tents.

In this nation where 80 per cent of the population is Catholic, the Church’s losses from the earthquake were tragic and widespread. The Archbishop of Haiti, Joseph Serge Miot, Port-au-Prince’s Vicar General, Monsignor Charles Benoit, and the Chancellor, Don Cherie, all died when the Archdiocesan offices collapsed. They number among the 230,000 Haitians who died in the quake.

Beyond the immediate task of distributing aid, consoling the bereaved and celebrating Christ’s presence with the people, there remains the overwhelming task of reconstructing Church infrastructure, said the Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, Archbishop Bernardito Auza.

One priority is the major seminary. “The earthquake destroyed the old seminary, killing nine seminarians and collapsing all but one building,” said the Nuncio, “But acts of faith that speak confidently to the future are important now. This week we are in the thick of the preparations to reopen our ‘seminary in tents.’”
The Nuncio told Catholic Mission he’d ordered “21 huge tents as dormitories for 243 seminarians and for staff and professors, and nine tents for classrooms.”

“It’s (cost) almost U.S. $400,000 but as of now we have no other option than this,” said the Nuncio. “We cannot reconstruct that fast and we haven’t yet acquired a new piece of land where we want to rebuild the new seminary.”

Asked how Catholic Mission donors can support the seminarians in Haiti, the Nuncio replied, “I ask, with gratitude, for ‘non-perishables’, that is money, to help us in these extraordinary times.”

Catholic Mission supports seminarians, communities and children in Haiti. Every year, money is given directly to each diocese. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and last year alone received $500,000 from Catholic Mission International.

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