Bishop Duracin writes from Haiti

UPDATE: We now have access to a heartbreaking video clip showing the rubble of Eglise Sainte Trinite cathedral in Port-au-Prince, along with further reportage from ENS.

Further, the Wall Street Journal’s Pooja Bhatia notes,

The quake also buckled the capital’s Episcopal Holy Trinity Cathedral and ruined its large colorful murals by Haiti’s top artists, including a depiction of Christ’s Ascension over a scene of soccer-playing village lads and Philomé Obin’s crucifixion scene with a mulatto Christ.

This in addition to a day in which The New York Times described the “saddest scenes” as being located

at the some of the places where Haitians go to pray, ornate churches filled with historical artifacts. At Holy Trinity Cathedral, the murals featuring Haitian renderings of biblical scenes on its interior walls now resemble an unfinished jigsaw puzzle.

The organ, which Haitians proudly say was one of the largest in the Caribbean, was smashed.

Bishop Jean Zache Duracin sent this letter yesterday to Rob Radtke, President of Episcopal Relief & Development:

Dear Mr. Radtke:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am writing to you from the tent city we have set up behind the rubble of College Ste. Pierre, our marvelous senior secondary school that is no more. As you know, we have gathered approximately 3,000 people here alone. Across the land, the Diocese of Haiti has set up at least 21 refugee camps, caring for more than 23,000 people.

In this letter, I wish to make clear to the Diocese of Haiti, to Episcopal Relief and Development and to all of our partners that Episcopal Relief and Development is the official agency of the Diocese of Haiti and that we are partners working hand-in-hand in Haiti’s relief and recovery efforts.

I also am announcing in this letter that I am appointing The Rev. Lauren R. Stanley, Appointed Missionary of The Episcopal Church, to work directly with ERD on my behalf. I am asking all partners in The Episcopal Church to communicate directly with Rev. Stanley, so as to keep communications with the Diocese of Haiti open. Rev. Stanley is to communicate and work with ERD on my behalf.

In addition, I am asking that all of our partners in the Presbyterian Church USA work directly with ERD, with Rev. Stanley as the central communications person. PCUSA has worked with us for many years, and we are deeply grateful for their compassion and their commitment to the people of Haiti.

We in the Diocese of Haiti have a vision and a plan for this relief and recovery effort. We know the situation on the ground, we are directing emergency relief to those who need it most, and we already are making plans and moving forward to help our people. Since the earthquake struck, we have been and will continue to work closely with your two representatives here, Ms. Katie Mears and Ms. Kirsten Muth. I have complete confidence in you and your agency.

Finally, I wish to make it plain: I know that many of our partners wish to come to Haiti right now to help. Please tell them that unless they are certified professionals in relief and recovery, they must wait. We will need them in the months and years to come, but at this point, it is too dangerous and too much of a burden for our people to have mission teams here.

Please tell our partners, the people of The Episcopal Church, the people of the United States and indeed the people of the world that we in Haiti are immensely grateful for their prayers, their support and their generosity. This is a desperate time in Haiti; we have lost so much. But we still have the most important asset, the people of God, and we are working continuously to take care of them.

I hope that this letter will help all of us work together to help God’s beloved people in Haiti. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me. If others have questions or concerns, please ask them to contact you or to work directly with Rev. Stanley.


Mgr. Jean Zaché Duracin

Evêque d’Haïti

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