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Haitian seminary attacked in midst of gang unrest

Port-au-Prince stacked housing

Sylvie Corriveau | Shutterstock

Housing stacked up a hillside in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti

J-P Mauro - published on 04/06/24

The Haitian Conference of Religious has invited all to "pray tirelessly" for an end to the violence, through the intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

The situation in Haiti continues to worsen after coordinated attacks on its capital, Port-au-Prince, saw gangs take control of most of the city, in late February. Throughout March, the violence and unrest continued, leading up to an April 1 attack on the Petit Séminaire Collège Saint Martial, a Catholic all boys school

Vatican News reports that the attack on the school was targeted after a failed attempt to occupy the National Palace.

The school is known for training the majority of the priests in Haiti, as well as one of the largest learning institutions in the nation. 

Members of the gang reportedly broke into the seminary through the doors after lighting cars on fire out in the courtyard. The Fathers of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), the religious community in custody of the seminary, were forced to flee the premises for fear of the violence they witnessed.

The attack, as well as the greater unrest plaguing Haiti, was condemned by the Haitian Conference of Religious (CHR), of which the Spiritans are members. In an open letter, the organization expressed its solidarity with the Fathers of the Holy Spirit, who it said were “tested by the recent dramatic events.” 

“We strongly denounce the attacks on Church institutions that are looted and desecrated by heavily armed individuals who target humble people who serve the entire population, specifically the poorest,” said the CHR. “It is with indignation that we observe how sons and daughters of the country attack private and state property without scruples and endanger the lives of others, who seem to have no value in their eyes.”

The CHR went on to invite all to “pray tirelessly” for peace in Haiti, through the intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. A tradition prayer in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help reads: 

O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke thy most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying. O Purest Mary, O Sweetest Mary, let thy name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, O Blessed Lady, to help me whenever I call on thee, for, in all my needs, in all my temptations I shall never cease to call on thee, ever repeating thy sacred name, Mary, Mary.

O what consolation, what sweetness, what confidence, what emotion fill my soul when I pronounce thy sacred name, or even only think of thee. I thank God for having given thee, for my good, so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely pronouncing thy name: let my love for thee prompt me ever to hail thee, Mother of Perpetual Help. Amen.

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