A day with Bishop Wenski and Fr. Andrew Small in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
The day we knew would be an emotional one began. After speaking with so many who had come into contact with the utter destruction and grave human need, we knew it would be a difficult trip. On top of that, we were attending the funeral Mass for Archbishop Miot and Fr. Benoit.
We started our journey. . .
Bishop Wenski prepares for the solemnity of Haiti
On our way, we said a prayer for the people of Haiti and all of the victims of the earthquake
Here is a video of the helicopter ride into Port-au-Prince. It is hard to imagine a place that looks so beautiful from here would be in such despair.
On our way to landing we viewed all of the wreckage the earthquake left behind. Each demolished building represents the lives it may have taken, and the loss of a home or a church or a work place. To see it all is jarring.
We then viewed the crumbled presidential palace. Can you imagine if the White House were no longer standing? A symbol of the country's leadership . . . gone.
Bishop Wenski and I attended the funeral Mass for Archbishop Miot and Fr. Benoit, whose lives were taken by the earthquake, which has taken an estimated 150,000 lives total, injured 194,000, and affected 3,000,000. An estimated 800,000+ Haitians are in need of shelter, 1 million have been displaced, and 90% of schools have been destroyed.*
During the funeral procession Bishop Wenski reflects upon his presence at Archbishop Miot's ordination.
Bishop Pierre Dumas, President of Caritas and a Haitian, enocourages the people of Haiti that God will never abandon his people. He believes this is a time of reflection and meditation. In an interview with Caritas he says, "I believe that our charity and the way in which we live this crisis will help increase our humanity. It will help us be more generous, open and available to each other, because the symbolic ways of living together has been destroyed. All of the symbols that join us together: the cathedral, the president’s palace, ministries, the schools, religious communities and many more places are in ruins."
Bishop Dumas emphasizes the importance of remembering the dignity of the human person when trying to rebuild the areas affected by the earthquake.
Now we depart from Haiti and our short trip with a heart filled with sorrow. Bishop Wenski summed it up perfectly, it was a day of prayer, a day of solidarity, and a day of hope.
* Sources: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Red Cross, the United Nations, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. State Department and the World Food Programme