Father Augustin Almy, a diocesan priest who was in the Port-au-Prince seminary at the time of its collapse on January 12, spoke to CNA this week sharing the story of his survival and describing the devastation in Haiti following the earthquake.
Speaking to CNA outside the remains of the seminary this week, Fr. Almy explained that at the time of the earthquake, he was in his second-floor room of the seminary watching television. “Suddenly I heard a noise...then I saw the walls coming down as the whole house began to collapse.”
“After about five or six minutes there was silence. I got out and saw that the seminary was completely destroyed. I tried to get back in but it was impossible. The seminarians were scared, and I realized I had escaped death,” the priest said.
Fr. Almy noted that there “are still some seminarians missing, but we can tell from the smell coming from inside that they have died.” Also, he continued, “we cannot find a professor of canon law and have not been able to access his room to see if he is dead or alive.”
Not only did the seminary collapse, but “the chapel was totally destroyed and we cannot celebrate Mass there. We have to celebrate outside.”
Speaking about the immediate needs they have, Father Almy said it was urgent that “the few possessions that remain be secured. Looters are coming from all over and they don’t realize that the seminary is not disappearing. We have to continue forward despite the catastrophe.”
“We also need to recover the bodies of the deceased out of respect and to prevent the spread of disease. Friends are helping us with food and water,” but “we are without power,” the priest said.