One week ago today a magnitude 7.2 earthquake wreaked its havoc on the southwestern part of Haiti where the St. Gabriel the Archangel twinned parish of Ste. Anne is located. The earthquake damaged all of the buildings on the parish campus, including the church, rectory, school, and clinic. The initial report from the St. Gabriel Haiti Committee can be found here:
Since our initial report, the death toll in the region is now at 2189, while 12,268 people have been injured and 300 are still missing. Throughout the week we have been in contact with the pastor of Ste. Anne Parish, Father Joseph Didier (Pere Didier). He has sent the following photos as well as many pleas for help via an app on his phone. The photos below show the Ste. Anne parishioners in makeshift tent dwellings in clearings in their villages because their homes and structures were damaged or destroyed. The last photo is of the flooding caused by tropical storm Grace that came up through Haiti on Monday, exacerbating the already tenuous situation.
To follow is a statement* from St. Gabriel Pastor, Father Larry Brault, on our work to assist our twin parish in Haiti:
My dearest brothers and sisters in Christ,
This past Saturday was a day of shock and profound sadness for me as I learned about the catastrophic earthquake that struck southern Haiti having a direct tragic impact on the Les Cayes diocese and on Ste. Anne’s in Sucrerie Henri, our twinned parish.
The pictures of the severe damage that was incurred were unbelievable. Knowing that my brother priest, Pere Didier, the pastor of St. Anne’s, a priest with a true shepherd’s heart for his people, now sleeps in the parish’s transport vehicle – the rectory being totally demolished – creates in me the deepest urgency to reach out and to offer the maximum amount of assistance possible.
Seeing additional pictures of people living under tents, afraid to go back into buildings and their homes adds to the urgency I am experiencing to call all of us, here at St. Gabriel’s, to a truly extraordinary response.to their suffering.
We have maintained our relationship with Ste. Anne’s for more than twenty years. The people of Ste. Anne’s as well as all our Haitian brothers and sisters are truly part of our “church family”. Having made more than six personal visits to Haiti and the parish, I know, first hand, how truly special these people are. And so I call upon all in the parish to step up in the weeks and months to come to help them to alleviate the consequences of this tragedy.
I have already made the decision to place on hold for this fall our annual Diane Czajak Memorial Change-for-Change Appeal so that our total focus can be placed on reaching out and helping in any way we can with the situation Pere Didier and the parishioners of our twinned-parish are facing. Our Haitian Committee is already at work to develop various fund-raising activities to help. Please support them.
In the weeks to come, I encourage you to allow your charity to be “boundless”. Join with me both in prayer and in charity to enter into solidarity with our brothers and sisters at Ste. Anne’s.
The St. Gabriel Haiti Committee is meeting on Monday night to further define the scope of assistance for our parish and to plan additional fundraising opportunities. Meanwhile, we are actively seeking donations through the parish electronic payment system. Here’s how to donate:
You may either send a check made out to St. Gabriel with “Haiti” in the memo line, to St. Gabriel Church, 151 Mendon Street, Upton, MA 01568 or visit link: https://giving.parishsoft.com/app/Giving/stgabrielgiving and using the dropdown menu under “One Time” then “Fund” choose “Haiti Collection – Monthly” (see image below). Once you enter the donation amount, you will be prompted to choose Credit Card or Bank Account and enter the information as indicated.
* Father Larry’s statement in Haitian Creole:
Frè ak Sè mwen yo,
Samdi ki sot pase a se te yon jou chòk ak anpi tristès pou mwen le mwen te aprann gen yon tranbleman tè ki te frape sid peyi Ayiti sitou nan dyosèz Okay la ak nan Ste Anne ki nan Sucrerie Henri, pawas marasa nou an.
Foto yo di anpil pou nou gade. Lè mwen konnen ke frè mwen, Pere Didier, Pè nan Ste Anne la, yon Pè ki gen kè tankou yon bèje ki pran swen pèp li, kounyeya ap dòmi nan machin transpò pawas la a.- Kay Pè a kraze plat atè. Sa a se premye okipasyon m’ pou mwen fè sa mwen kapab pou mwen ede.
Mwen wè foto moun kap viv anba tant, yo pè tounen lakay yo. Sa a anko mete plis ijans pou nou menm nan pawas St Gabriel pou nou ede moun sa yo kap soufri anpil.
Nou gen yon relasyon avèk St Anne plis pase 20 lane. Moun nan St Anne ak lot frè ak sè ayisyen nou yo vrèman fe pati nan “fanmi legliz” nou an. Mwen vizite pawas sa a 6 fwa deja, mwen konnen moun yo trè byen, mwen konnen ke yo se moun ki vrèman espesyal. Se konsa, mwen mande tout moun nan pawas la pou nou fè jefo epi bay plis nan semèn ak mwa kap vini yo pou nou ka ede soulaje lavi frè ak sè nou yo nan move moman sa a.
Mwen deja pran desizyon pou mwen pa fè “Diane Czajak Memorial Change-for-Change Appeal” ando, koleksyon nou te konn fè chak ane a; konsa nou ka konsantre sou St Anne. Pou nou we kouman nou kapab ede Pè Didier ak tout pawasyen yo. Komite ayisyen nou an deja nan travay pou devlope divès aktivite pou ranmase lajan pou ede. Tanpri sipòte yo.
Nan semèn kap vini yo, mwen ankouraje nou tout pou nou bay plis pase sa nou te konn bay. An nou mete ansanm avè m ‘ nan lapriyè, nan charite ak pou nou fè solidarite ak frè ak sè nou yo ki nan Ste Anne.
Ke Bondye beni e pwoteje pep ayiti. (May God bless and protect the people of Haiti)
With sincere appreciation and gratitude for your donation and prayers,
The St. Gabriel Haiti Committee:
Father Larry Brault
Sarah Baldiga (Emeritus)