Friday, September 3, 2010


(Catholic News Service) - By Tom Tracy

PORT-AU-PRINCE -- Some 800 bricks from a collapsed chapel at St. Louis King of France Parish now stand in a new memorial to Haitian earthquake victims.

The bricks take the shape of two converging walls with a colorful cross in the middle. A crack running from the ground up signifies the earthquake damage.

Many of the bricks bear the names of the local deceased, including the names of the Montfort priest and 10 seminarians who were killed while sitting in a van, crushed by a carport. The collapsed parish chapel killed 10 parishioners who had gathered for a prayer service, said Montfort Father Quesnel Alphonse, pastor.

"I could easily have been one of those killed, but by God's grace I lived, and this was an idea I had to pay homage to those who lived," he told Catholic News Service through a translator.

Months of planning and local donations of more than $13,000 helped launch the project.

The monument was designed by local architect and engineer Indra Lafontan. Some of the bricks will remain blank to signify the estimated hundreds of thousands of earthquake victims as well as those whose remains were never found or identified, said Father Alphonse.

With a section of the wall outfitted to hold candles, the monument attempts to convey the Judeo-Christian idea that out of darkness emerges light. Another major theme was taken from St. John's Gospel, concerning the dying seed giving new life.

St. Louis Parish serves an estimated 2,000 local Catholic families and is the provincial headquarters of the Montfort Fathers.

The parish grounds now support a tent city for the parish staff and hundreds of members of the local community, as well as a school and health clinic. Church services are held under a temporary structure constructed on the site adjacent to the destroyed chapel.

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