Still recovering from the shock and political chaos resulting from the assassination of their president, the people of Haiti faced an additional crisis on August 13 when an earthquake of 7.2 magnitude hit the country killing approximately 2,200 people and destroying over 50,000 homes. Three days later, Tropical Storm Grace ravaged the country with massive winds and heavy rains, which only triggered more suffering and further complicated earthquake relief and recovery efforts.
Fr. Rosemond Marcelin, C.S.C., Superior of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Province, reports that thankfully all of the Holy Cross religious are safe and well. He says that most of the devastation and loss of life was concentrated in the southern part of the country, where the earthquake struck. Many of the Holy Cross religious live and minister in the Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haïtien regions, both of which escaped any major destruction.
This is not the case, however, with the Holy Cross parish, Saint Marie-Madeleine, in Duchity, which has suffered massive damage to its buildings. Fr. Marcelin made a visit to Duchity on August 25, and found that the parish rectory was inhabitable. Fr. Emery Menard, C.S.C., Pastor, and Br. Rolin Rosemond, C.S.C., are now living in a space where they used to welcome visitors. The five chapels within the parish jurisdiction are severely damaged and almost inoperable. The chapel in Tozia completely collapsed. The schools that serve the population in the parish communities are also badly damaged.
Approximately 20 parishioners have lost their lives and many more are now homeless. As often happens in times of crisis in the country, the people turn to the Church for their needs, and Fr. Menard and Br. Rolin are trying to respond to the best of their ability.
The Congregation of Holy Cross is contributing emergency relief funds to the Province in Haiti for its work among those who are suffering, especially in the South of Haiti. There are also conversations ongoing between the General Administration and the Province leadership as to how to structure and sustain this effort and support over the long haul.