The Diocese of Worcester is still seeking news on the fate of its mission house in Les Cayes, Haiti after Tuesday’s devastating earthquake. The diocese has many ties to the country.
Chancery officials told the Telegraph and Bulletin that they have been unable to contact the Kay Sen Pol mission house in Les Cayes, a town on the southern coast about 150 miles west of Port-au-Prince. Les Cayes has a population of about 175,000.
“There’s no communication whatsoever,” said Raymond L. Delisle, vice chancellor of operations and diocesan spokesman. “Even the United States government can’t get through. We might not get word for some time.”
Sr. Marie-Judith Dupuy, director of the diocese’s Haitian apostolate, said she is hopeful that the facility was spared because the earthquake’s destruction centered around Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital.
However, she has received reports of collapsed buildings in Les Cayes.
“There is still much damage in areas away from Port-au-Prince,” she told the Telegraph and Bulletin.
Sr. Dupuy reported that it is difficult to get information because most of Haiti’s communications systems are centered in the capital and all were out of operation or severely damaged.
“There’s no electricity, so people can’t even use the Internet,” she said.
Sr. Dupuy had planned to fly to Haiti on Friday.
The mission house was founded about two decades ago. Worcester-area Catholics have supported the project to help needy Haitians.
Seventeen central Massachusetts churches are sister congregations to 17 of Les Cayes’ 44 parishes.
Last October Bishop of Worcester Robert J. McManus visited the city to renew a covenant with the Bishop of Les Cayes, Guyre Poulard.
There is no information about how many Catholics of the Diocese of Worcester are in Haiti at present.
Former Charlton residents Deacon Peter Faford and his wife Linda retired to Haiti to work at a boys’ school near Les Cayes. His sister-in-law Barbara Faford told the Telegraph and Bulletin that they are fine.
Peter was able to get through by telephone and he said they were shaken up, but they’re fine,” Mrs. Faford said, according to the Telegraph and Bulletin. “There was maybe a little bit of damage, breakage of things. Other than that, that part of the island was fine.”
Bishop McManus has issued a statement, to be published in the Catholic Free Press, asking local Catholics to contribute to relief efforts. He said that many survivors have lost everything and many remote villages have been “severely or totally destroyed.”
“Neither the Haitian government nor the people will be able to mount a substantive relief effort. The Haitian people will need a great deal of international support to rebuild their villages and their lives.”
A special collection will be taken at Masses this weekend for Catholic Relief Services’ work in Haiti.
Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley has asked parishes within the archdiocese to take up a collection sometime this month. He reported that Catholic Charities of Boston will assist Boston-area Haitians affected by the earthquake.