STAMFORD – The Rev. Judith Alexis stood in front of a sparse crowd Sunday afternoon, and told them in French and in English, that she too is worried about her family in Haiti.
Alexis told her parishioners and the guests in the crowd, that her two elderly aunts are still in Haiti. One of her aunts is blind and in a wheelchair, the other is traumatized by what she saw when the earth shook. One is sleeping outside, waiting for Alexis to get there and bring her back to the U.S.
Both of her aunts will live with Alexis in the rectory as soon as she can get them here.
She plans to hire a caretaker and is worried how her aunts will handle Connecticut’s frigid climate, so is preparing for a hefty heating bill in the future.
“And I’m one of the lucky ones,” she said. “I have a job, I live in a rectory.”
Much of her congregation, she said, isn’t so fortunate. Alexis explained that many Haitians move to America to find work and send their earnings home to their family in Haiti.
“They’ve been working two, up to three jobs, for years to send their kids to school and to build a house for their family, and now everything is in ruins,” she said.
Members of L’Eglise de L’Epiphanie are also dealing with survivor’s guilt and wonder why they deserve to eat if their families can’t, Alexis said.
But in the midst of so much misery, she said, her congregation is filled with hope.
“All of this is unimaginable, but we are Haitians. We will find a way, we always do,” she said.
At the service, which drew clergy from across the state as well as Stamford politicians, Rt. Rev. James E. Curry, suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, said that all Christians are a part of the body of Christ and need one another, adding that spiritually, the ocean can’t keep Haitians and Americans apart.
“As we gather together today we are family. We are family in Christ gathered at the church. We have been given to one another…we can work together for new life, listening carefully to the people of Haiti and what they need for their future, what they want for their future, and what they can build for their future, and we here can be people who can offer ourselves and who we are and what we have, to help create that new life,” he said.
At the service Sen. Andrew McDonald said Haiti’s resilience has inspired him.
“They are facing challenges that here in Connecticut we will likely never have to face,” he said. “Yet they are doing it with deep commitment, abiding love for their culture and with respect for their heritage.”
He said relief efforts can’t stop tomorrow, next week or next month and called it “the test of a generation.”
St. John’s is working with several parishes across Connecticut to help Haiti get back on its feet. At Sunday’s memorial service more than $2,500 was collected for the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund. To find how else you can help, visit http://www.egliseepiphanie.org/.