A prayer service for the victims of the recent Haiti earthquake has been announced for tomorrow, August 21st in New York City, and will feature one of the nation’s Black bishops, the retired Haitian-American Guy Sansaricq of Brooklyn.
Entitled “A Service of Solidarity for the People of Haiti and the People of New York”, the event will take place at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in Manhattan at 5pm CT.
It is being organized by the Haitian American Clergy Association, the Haitian Consulate of New York, and the cathedral itself (run by the Episcopal Church, the United States’ main Anglican body).
Michelle Guerrier, a representative from the planning committee for the event, tells BCM that the event will feature readings in both French and English, and that the event will be livestreamed.
Announced last week, the prayer service comes as the death toll continues to rise on the Black island republic following a 7.2-magnitude quake that struck the west side of the country last Saturday.
The death toll was at 2,189 as of Wednesday night, with 12,268 injuries.
“Following political upheaval and an earthquake that has claimed thousands of lives, Haiti is currently in dire need of global attention and assistance,” the event description reads, referring to the assassination of then-president Jovenel Moïse on July 7th following an extended period of national unrest.
“Join us in demonstrating that the people of New York City stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti, and let's pray together for their comfort and relief.”
A similar event is being planned in DC, where another Black bishop, Cardinal Wilton Gregory—reportedly a “long-standing friend of Haiti”—will say a Mass on Friday, August 27th at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, also at 6pm CST.
“Haiti is grieving, Haiti is hurting and so are we,” reads an announcement letter from Fr Luc Philogene, chaplain for the Haitian American Community in Washington DC, the local group organizing the event.
Both the prayer service in NYC and the Mass in DC are intended to be ecumenical events, with the former event featuring speakers from various denominations as well as the Haitian Ambassador to the United States Bocchit Edmond.
As with the devastating Haiti earthquake in 2010—which occurred roughly 100 miles east of the epicenter of this month’s—various Catholic groups are involved in the relief effort, and Catholic Relief Services recently released an emergency fact sheet.
Also like the 2010 disaster, which killed Port Au Prince's Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot, this month's quake injured Cardinal Chibly Langlois of Les Cayes, the first cardinal in Haitian history and president of the Haitian bishops' conference.
Search and rescue operations in the country are ongoing as of Friday morning.
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Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).