Haitian Seminarians Struggle to Recover

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

The Papal Nuncio of Haiti is pleading for help in resurrecting the crumbled remains of the major seminaries in Port-au-Prince.

“The seminaries and the seminarians lost everything,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti to Agenzia Fides. “Putting them back to ‘normal’ life is a priority.”

But the task will not be easy.

Both of the national Major Seminaries, which housed more than 200 seminarians plus faculty and personnel collapsed in the Jan. 14 quake that nearly destroyed the country. Fifteen seminarians, a professor and members of the staff were killed and many were left wounded, several of whom had amputations.

The 28 seminarians who were nearing completion of their studies will be permitted to finish out the academic year, the Nuncio said. They will be housed in tents and all facilities such as classrooms, kitchens, etc. will also be housed in tents. This group will be ordained deacons during the summer.

The remaining seminarians will be sent back to their diocese where the Ordinaries and professors will organize courses for them from time to time. 

“The seminaries and the seminarians lost everything,” the Nuncio said. “Nothing except some of the books in the library on the third floor was saved. So, the greatest needs of the seminarians are clothing, toiletries, tents to sleep in.

“Many of the seminarians have been sent back to their dioceses, but the dioceses are also extremely poor and in great need of assistance. . . . Most of the parishes in Haiti refuse to house the seminarians if the diocese does not pay something for board and lodging, because they cannot provide for their subsistence. Haiti was very poor before and even more so after the earthquake.”

Their most dire need is for financial aid. “The easiest, most flexible and fastest way to help these unfortunate seminarians is through financial aid that we can use according to the most urgent needs of the moment,” the Nuncio said.

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