Magazine article The Christian Century

Hopes Rise in Haiti for New Episcopal Cathedral

Magazine article The Christian Century

Hopes Rise in Haiti for New Episcopal Cathedral

Article excerpt

Among the casualties of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that devastated Haiti two years ago this month was Holy Trinity Cathedral in downtown Port-au-Prince. Now, with the support of donors from the U.S. and around the world, construction on a new cathedral is expected to begin this spring.

Sikhumbuzo Vundla, chief of operations of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, said in an interview that enough money has already been raised to launch the first construction phase as early as this March.

Vundla said that the complex will also include a music school, a vocational school, a primary school and a secondary school as well as a convent for the Sisters of St. Margaret, which were also destroyed in the earthquake. But the fund-raising for and the building of these structures will be handled separately from the cathedral, he said.

Plans call for the new cathedral to be erected on the original site. The primary worship space will be able to accommodate up to 1,000 people. The structure will also house several administrative offices.

J. Zache Duracin, the Episcopal bishop of Haiti, said in a recent appearance at Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside, Pennsylvania, that churches in Haiti do the work that governments do elsewhere.

"In many places," he said, "the only institution that exists is the church." The diocese operates more than 200 schools across the country, along with health clinics and other facilities, which will also have to be rebuilt or repaired.

Architectural firms invited to bid on the proposed design and construction have been urged to respect the "memory" of the previous structure by incorporating its "character-defining" features. Those include three surviving murals (out of 14) that adorned the interior walls of the old cathedral and were painted by well-known Haitian artists; the buildings cornerstone; and ten bronze bells. …

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