PORT-AU-PRINCE — The 17 seminarians at Seminarie de Theologie, Eglise Episcopale d'Haiti, have learned a lot about leadership over the past 11 months. When their building was damaged by the Jan. 12 earthquake, and their city was left in ruins, they quickly jumped into action bringing counsel and prayer to the devastated country.
"When you see things like that happen you think why Haiti? Where is God in all of this?," Seminary Director Rev. Chanoine Oge Beauvoir said. "The challenge for us who call ourselves Christian is to show God's presence to others, in spite of our own suffering, to stand up and show God's love."
Immediately after the earthquake the students worked with those living in a nearby tent city and today continue to reach out to the community.
The seminary, which has been repaired, borders an Episcopal high school. The campus became a tent city after the earthquake. There are still some tents on the property, but not as many, and four different schools are now using the campus.
Oge Beauvoir and his seminarians are confident that the earthquake was not God's wrath upon Haiti. More than 1 million people were left homeless and 230,000 people died because of poor leadership, Oge Beauvoir said.
"Why did we let people build anything, anywhere? It's not God's fault, it's our fault," he said, explaining that leaders need to step up now more than ever.
He said the seminarians are trying to be those leaders, and are trying to encourage other visionaries to take a stand as well.
In Haiti there are 119 Episcopal parishes, and only 46 priests. Because of that Oge Beauvoir said the church relies heavily on lay leaders. In January the seminary will host a lay leadership program.
Meanwhile, the students (who are living in temporary dorms) have been attending chapel twice a day and taking spirituality classes.
"We do that because you need to be spiritual to be a leader and within the community," Oge Beauvoir said.
For information on the seminary, visit its website here.