Miami's Churches Offer Prayers For Haiti

fromWLRN

Sunday was a time of reflection at churches around the world in the aftermath of last week's deadly earthquake in Haiti. In Miami, messages of healing, hope and grief were especially prominent. The city has one of the largest populations of Haitian immigrants in the United States.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

In communities across America yesterday, Haitians gathered for Sunday services to pray for family and friends devastated by that earthquake. In South Florida, nearly a week after the tragedy, many Haitians are surviving on the one thing they have not lost, their faith. Leah Fleming, from member station WLRN in Miami, filed this report.

(Soundbite of prayer)

LEAH FLEMING: In Miamis Little Haiti neighborhood, the pews at Notre Dame D'Haiti Catholic Church overflow. Hundreds of worshippers, some spilling out the doors onto sidewalks are at mass today. Among them Colleen Franscoa(ph) and her children. Like others in this community, she is awaiting word on missing family members, and her heart aches for those she already knows have died.

Ms. COLLEEN FRANSCOA: Even though Im hurt. I lost my cousin. I lost my sister-in-law. I got two sisters, I still cannot find. But wait, God is good. I have to come here and pray with my children and explain to them, no matter what happen God still love us.

FLEMING: It is a theme echoed throughout the day at churches at South Florida and elsewhere. Father Reginald Jean-Mary holds a moment of silence and prays for those unaccounted for in Haiti. And for those who are suffering in his congregation, like Franscoa. Father Reginald says God has not forgotten Haiti or those with ties to the country.

Father Reginald JEAN-MARY (Notre Dame D'Haiti Catholic Church): Lord lifted up (unintelligible) and those who feel so high down (unintelligible) of the marginalized, he is on the side of those who are crying out for justice, for peace and help in hand.

FLEMING: Life in Haiti was hard before the earthquake. Residents there were still reeling from four major storms over the past hurricane season. But many congregants like Bernard Frederick(ph) say the earthquake is actually a blessing in disguise. Its brought much needed assistance, financial and other that will help them rebuild.

Mr. BERNARD FREDERICK: Nevertheless its better now. I think, I hope too. Because all over the world, focus on Haiti right now.

FLEMING: Frederick hopes to volunteer in Haiti this week. Haitians say God has always been and is still with the people of Haiti. Congregant Andre Pierre(ph) says sometimes things like earthquakes happen but God brings people together and in the end makes them stronger.

For NPR News, Im Leah Fleming in Miami.

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