"We are a resurrected church," Bishop of Haiti Jean Zaché Duracin tells other Episcopalians in ENS Weekly bulletin inserts for June 27. The inserts report on progress that the Diocese of Haiti is making towards establishing a master plan for rebuilding its facilities, most of which were damaged or destroyed in the Jan. 12 earthquake that also devastated much of Haiti's infrastructure and its already-precarious economy. Duracin also speaks of a renewed sense of ministry and vision among his people as they work to overcome the devastation.
Full text of the inserts is below. Inserts may be downloaded here.
'We are a resurrected church'
A report from the Bishop of Haiti
By Mary Frances Schjonberg
During a recent visit to New York City, Episcopal Diocese of Haiti Bishop Jean Zaché Duracin told Episcopal Church Center staff that he hopes his diocese and nation can "rebuild a new mentality."
He delivered to Church Center personnel what he called "part one" of the diocese's master plan for rebuilding. The document is an assessment of the damage to diocesan institutions by the magnitude-7 earthquake that struck on Jan. 12.
"We wanted to do it professionally, so it has taken time," he said.
The next part of the master plan, Duracin said, will be an assessment of other diocesan buildings that were less damaged than those covered in the first assessment, but still in need of repairs.
"A new vision has to be in the master plan â not physical design and cost â but we have to rebuild a new mentality for Haitian people," he said. "I find that we have learned so many things in the earthquake where all people â rich, poor, educated and non-educated people â are living in tents. I think that we have learned something [and the question is] how to use that to teach a new generation."
The bishop said that he wonders about "how to use the earthquake now to seek opportunities to live together in unity. It's very important."
Among the institutions that were destroyed, Duracin said, were the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince and its adjacent educational complex that once served 4,000 students ranging from an elementary school to a trade school. Also lost were the secondary school College St. Pierre, St. Vincent's School for Handicapped Children, the Episcopal University and the diocese's seminary.
"We have a lot to do," Duracin said. "We have lost so many churches, so many other schools in the countryside which have to be rebuilt."
And, Duracin added, he worries about the fate of the thousands of people still living in tent settlements as the rainy season, with its hurricanes, settles in. "I worry about the situation of people now because we have too many people in tents," he said.
In February, it was reported that the diocese was caring for between 25,000 and 30,000 quake survivors in 60 settlements. Duracin said that the diocese is now trying to count how many people remain in those settlements. Some have found other living arrangements and there is some pressure to disband or reduce settlements near schools which have now resumed.
Despite the work ahead of it, Duracin said people elsewhere in the Episcopal Church ought to be assured that "the church [in Haiti] is there because faith is there. The communities are there. Even though we have no buildings, people gather regularly on Sunday for services. Faith has become greater."
The bishop also expressed his gratitude to the larger church for "its support to us and I ask the whole church to continue to pray for us and act with us for rebuilding of the diocese.
"We are a resurrected church," he said.
--The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is a national correspondent for Episcopal News Service.
Episcopal Relief & Development continues to partner with the Diocese of Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake. Contributions may be made at www.er-d.org or at P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058 or by phone at 800-334-7626, ext. 5129.