Aid to the Church in Need directs aid to Haitian seminarians harmed by quake


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Port au Prince, Haiti, Jan 21, 2010 / 03:31 am (CNA).- The charity Aid to the Church in Need has announced that it is sending $100,000 in urgent aid to help more than 200 impoverished seminarians in Haiti after their college collapsed in the earthquake.

The aid, sent from the U.K. office of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), follows news that at least 30 seminarians were killed last week when the massive quake destroyed seminary buildings in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

The aid package, which includes food, medicine, clothing and shoes for the surviving seminarians, follows a desperate appeal from Louis Kébreau, Archbishop of Cap-Haïtien and chairman of the Haiti Catholic Bishops' Conference.

ACN reports that the Salesian archbishop stressed the needs of the seminarians and said they had nobody to care for them. They were desperate to return to their home dioceses, many of which are a good distance from the capital.

The latest package was agreed upon late Tuesday. Last Friday ACN had dispatched $70,000 for general emergency relief work and more aid from the charity is expected soon.

ACN aid is being channeled through Archbishop Bernardito Auza, apostolic nuncio to Haiti, who is bringing in aid from Santo Domingo in the neighboring Dominican Republic.

Archbishop Auza has reported an "endless list" of death and destruction, saying "all of our beautiful churches are wiped out."

Seminarians from the Montfordian religious order were trapped and killed in Port-au-Prince when their minibus was crushed by falling debris.

On Saturday he reported that Daughters of Mary religious sisters were still trapped in the rubble. Their provincial had died and those who had been rescued were wounded.

The nuncio said there is total reliance on relief aid.

"I have nowhere else to buy bread. I cannot multiply my sack of rice," he told ACN.

Bishop Chibly Langlois of Fort-Liberté on Sunday told ACN that he had sent a mission to Port-au-Prince to collect 16 diocesan seminarians, all of whom survived the earthquake.

"One of the seminarians spent two-and-a-half days under the rubble. Another was injured. Three others received shocks and need special care. I have sent two to the Dominican Republic for check-ups and treatment impossible to get in Fort-Liberté."

He added that the seminarians were unable to recover their belongings and so they are in need of both medical assistance and financial help to secure a change of clothes and other basic necessities.

"We live through this catastrophe clinging to faith and hope," Bishop Langois commented. "Our prayers do not stop us turning to God who can help us overcome our sufferings through solidarity and communion with others."

ACN's further plans include a project assessment trip to Haiti, scheduled for March.

The charity's Latin America projects department has drafted a five-point strategy prioritizing help for those fleeing the worst-affected areas. The plan also will support key Church structures including the CIFOR pastoral center and repairs for the major seminary, both of which are in Port-au-Prince.