Miami Catholics unite in prayer as search continues for building collapse survivors – Catholic Telegraph


Washington DC, June 28, 2021 / 12:35

As more deaths were confirmed over the weekend from a building collapse in South Florida, the local Catholic community is praying and trying to keep hope alive amid the search for survivors .

On Sunday, 109 parishes in the Archdiocese of Miami “were all praying for everyone – the victims, the families, the responders, the rescuers,” Mary Ross Agosta of the Archdiocese of Miami told CNA on Monday.

At around 1:30 a.m. local time Thursday morning in Surfside, Florida, part of the 12-story Champlain Towers condominium complex collapsed. As search and rescue teams continue to search for survivors among the rubble on Monday, 10 people have been confirmed dead and 151 people remain missing.

In “everyone’s memory, this is the first accidental tragedy of this magnitude,” Agosta said.

“The prayers just don’t stop, and they can’t,” she said, noting that local authorities announced the 10th victim of the building collapse on Monday morning.

“As this news comes in, the agony begins again for everyone. As the days go by, you can only pray that as hope fades, faith will come back, double and bring peace to their hearts, ”she said.

Among those missing in the building collapse were several families from nearby St. Joseph’s Parish, which is just a few blocks from the Champlain Towers complex.

The parish priest of St. Joseph, Fr. Jose Sosa, told CNA on Monday that his parish was responding to the tragedy with prayer and relief efforts. He noted on Friday that nine parish families were among those missing in the building collapse.

“The community is bound by a spirit of prayer,” he told CNA on Monday.

“Prayers of support must also be prayers of hope. And everyone – no one wants to give up hope, especially of faith and Christian origins, ”he said.

In St. Joseph’s, “the church remains open to everyone – families waiting, families hearing the news, even our firefighters and first responders,” Agosta told CNA.

The response from regional religious leaders has been ecumenical, Fr Sosa said, with pastors and rabbis from Protestant and Orthodox Jewish communities writing to him and offering their support.

Agosta confirmed this ecumenical support. “Miami, and the gift of its diversity, has been incredible. We have many faiths here, ”she said, noting that chaplains of various faiths and faiths were helping families affected by the tragedy and the community was providing water, food and comfort.

Israeli rescue teams also aided the search and rescue operation, as Surfside is home to a Jewish community, she noted.

Diocesan priests also serve as chaplains for local response teams. At St. Patrick’s Parish near Miami Beach, Pastor Bro. Roberto Cid is the Miami Beach Fire Chaplain. The rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Miami, Fr. Christopher Marino, VF, is also the chaplain of the City of Miami Fire Department.

“Their role is to be the chaplains of the firefighters. So, they are really on sight. They are at the foot of the rubble with the firefighters, ”Agosta said.

At Sunday mass, Fr. Sosa declared that he had announced the names of the parishioners involved in the tragedy and created a book of remembrance. The parish also organized a prayer vigil on Saturday evening.

One of St. Patrick’s parishioners in Miami Beach – Manuel LaFont – was confirmed dead Saturday night, according to the Miami Herald. He owned a condominium in the Surfside complex.

The Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami was also affected by the tragedy, as the school president reported that a former student and ten family members of former students and staff were among those missing in the collapse of the building.

“In times of such sadness, we must remain faithful to our Heavenly Father and place our trust in Him,” said Fr. Guillermo M. Garcia-Tuñón, SJ, in an e-mail to the community of the ‘school. “As the Belen family, we will hand all those affected by this tragedy into the hands of Our Lady of Belen.”

The school is holding a rosary for community members on Monday, June 28 at 8 p.m. local time.

The Vatican also sent a declaration of solidarity on behalf of Pope Francis to the Archdiocese of Miami on Saturday.

Pope Francis “offers a sincere prayer that Almighty God will grant eternal peace to those who have died, comfort to those who mourn their loss and strength to all who are touched by this immense tragedy,” said the Vatican.

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