When Rev. Jean-Mary Reginald learned about the massive earthquake in Haiti, he reflexively walked to his church– Notre Dame D’Haiti Catholic Church in Little Haiti– and opened the doors. People began to arrive immediately. The church, he says, “is the living room” of the Haitian-American community in South Florida.
With Haiti’s phone lines down, most of those who arrived had no news of loved ones back home. They grabbed their stomachs in pain, some threw themselves on the floor …
In this piece, Rev. Jean-Mary describes how the earthquake affected his congregation, and how music helped them heal. The church was growing before, but after the quake, it grew more.
The earthquake also made people more generous, Jean-Mary says. Most of the church’s members are struggling in the current economic climate, but now they are sending even more money back to Haiti to help loved ones rebuild. The church has also re-designated funds for building a larger church. Much of that money will go back to Haiti too– for medical assistance, schools and basic supplies.
UPDATE, ONE YEAR AFTER THE QUAKE:
A year later, Reverend Jean-Mary says more people are still coming to his church than before the earthquake. He hears in their prayers gratefulness for having been spared.
But the parishioners at Notre Dame D’Haiti are also praying for “divine intervention” in Haiti–-for relief from the after-effects of the earthquake, the cholera outbreak, and political upheaval after the recent presidential election.
Though Notre Dame D’Haiti has more congregants, the reverend says that hasn’t translated to more resources. Like so many others in South Florida, Haitian parishioners have lost jobs or had their hours cut back. So they have less cash. They also continue to send a great amount of the money they do have to Haiti. Overall tithing is down, and the Reverend says that’s put the church in a tough financial situation.