Haiti – The Tented Seminary

The Catholic seminary in Port-au-Prince, which was almost completely destroyed by the recent earthquake, will open again immediately after Easter, according to a leading bishop in Haiti.

Archbishop Louis N. Kébreau of Cap-Haitien, who is also chairman of the Haitian Bishops’ Conference, passed on this information to international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), during a visit on March 23 to the charity’s international headquarters in Königstein near Frankfurt, Germany.

Initially, the seminarians from the various different dioceses of Haiti will be housed in tents, along with the academic staff.

“The new beginning is a sign of hope for our devastated and traumatized land,” declared Archbishop Kébreau to the assembled staff of ACN.

A great many Haitians are looking to their pastors for help and consolation, he added, and many continue to live in a state of shock after losing husband or wife, children or other family members.

Hundreds of thousands of people can only look back on the ruins of their former existence, the archbishop told ACN.

Archbishop Kébreau described how the Church, too, has lost a great many of her own pastoral workers, including laity, religious sisters, priests and bishops. Among the dead are also 30 of the 260 seminarians at the former seminary.

“Those who have survived have lost everything,” said the archbishop, adding that he himself had counseled many people during the past few weeks and endeavored to ease the trauma of their experiences.

Things are now slowly returning to normal, he said, but at the same time everyone knows there is still much work to be done.

“We are still at the very beginning,” said Archbishop Kébreau.

Immediately following the earthquake on January 19, 2010, ACN gave immediate emergency aid of $70,000 for the Catholic Church in Haiti. Later, a further $100,000 was given to help the 230 surviving seminarians with their most basic needs, including food, clothing, and medicine.

ACNs representative for the countries of this region, Xavier Legorreta, explained, “We are helping because the dioceses are unable to support their seminarians, and also because many of them do not belong to any religious congregation so that they cannot expect any help from this direction either.” The money has been sent via the Vatican’s nunciature and is being distributed to the dioceses.

ACN has been helping the people of Haiti since 1962. In the past three years alone the charity has given over $2 million in grants for pastoral and charitable projects in the country.

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