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Cazenovia congregation concerned for Haiti parish

After Tuesday's tragic earthquake in Port au Prince, Haiti, St. James Catholic Church parishioners were immediately concerned for both friends in their sister parish, St. Yves, in Thibeau, Haiti, and the country as a whole.

"The people in Haiti suffer so," said Shannon Richard, chair of the church's Haiti committee. "It is so difficult for me to understand how they can take any more."

St. Yves is in the northern region of Haiti, far removed from Port au Prince. But according to Richard, the church's priest, Father Joseph Almyre was in Port au Prince at the time.

"Once again the Haitian people are living a difficult situation," Almyre said in an e-mail to St. James parishioners. "Please, pray for my people."

Almyre wrote last night that northern Haiti was experiencing heavy rain, and that they did not know what was to come.

"Sincerely, we are afraid in the country. Once again, pray for us," he said.

St. James has worked with St. Yves since 2001. In the past year, St. James was able to send 95 students to school, a school St. James helped to build. They also facilitated a new program in which Haitians learn to raise rabbits for food, and continued a program to provide clean water systems. The church has provided clean water systems to about 4,000 people in 600 homes and hopes to add 300 units in the next year.

Last year, Richard went to the village with her daughter, Tess, and Adam and Michelle Burnett to assess the rabbit program and water filtration program.

But now, more than ever before, the people of Haiti need support.

"The people of Haiti have amazing beauty, strength and grace," Richard said. "Please pray that we find the best solutions to help them recover."

With everything that was happening in his country, Almyre still took the time in his e-mail Tuesday night to thank the church for a recent contribution of $1,850 that helped him provide soup for his parishioners during Haiti's recent Indepence Day.

"May God bless you always!" he wrote.

Those interested in becoming involved with the program can call St. James church at 655-5653.

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