Haitians Mark Quake Anniversary with Tears and Prayers

Haiti bishop

Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, assured Haitians on the one-year anniversary of the Port-au-Prince earthquake that they are not alone in their sufferings. Photo by Alsy Acevedo/CRS

CRS communications officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, Alsy Acevedo, filed this report from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

There’s a solemnity in the air of the streets of Port-au-Prince, today. Businesses and schools are closed, but people hurry to get somewhere, anywhere, where they can pray.

At 9 a.m. about a thousand people had gathered to attend Mass in the center of Port Au Prince. Behind them, the ruins of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de L’Assomption stand as a testament to the damage caused by the earthquake that shook the Haitian capital a year ago.

Most people, dressed in white, the color of mourning in Haiti, talked softly and cried quietly.

The first anniversary of the earthquake was not the remembrance of a tragedy that occurred twelve months ago and has already passed. The seismic event is still very present in the streets of Port Au Prince where damaged structures, buildings, rubble, tents and collapsed houses coexist.

The anniversary was a moment to mourn the thousands of lost lives and to look beyond the ruins and the political instability into the future of the country.

During the homily Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, praised the resilience of the Haitians. He quoted the word of Jesus in the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and assured the Haitians, they are not alone.

Cardinal Sarah, who was sent by the Vatican to preside over the Mass, commended the solidarity so many countries have shown the Caribbean nation and the humanitarian work of Catholic Relief Services, as well as other humanitarian institutions.

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