By Dr. Judy Kuriansky
A leading American clinical psychologist and post-disaster comfort care expert shares insights from her “emotional first aid” mission in Haiti. See her full story on Beliefnet.
We began our journey to Haiti in hopes we could recover the remains of the priests lost in the rubble of a collapsed school building in Haiti.
Father Wismick and I took a solemn trip one morning to look for the bodies of the 10 missing young priests. To him, they were like sons he’d proudly nurtured as he prepared them for ordination. Last he’d heard they were trapped in the school building in which they teach and where they were attending a seminar given by a visiting Brazilian doctor who had come especially to give a lecture.
We reached the area– and it was a big pile of rubble, like so much else in the city. Schoolbooks were strewn everywhere. I picked up some charred texts and smeared notebooks and handed them to Father Wismick to keep as reminders of the children who studied and laughed here. We had to step precariously among the piles of tangled building materials, upturned desks, broken chairs, and strewn paper.
Father Wismick was frustrated that a group of parishioners had paid considerable funds for a group of men to use a machine to try to find the bodies among the mess, but to no avail. No future efforts like this were likely, leading Father Wismick to conclude that these men, his “sons,” will remain here for years until the area is razed. “I am so sad,” he said, but then resolved, “There will be life that comes of this horrible death.”
That resolution later inspired the service he gave that afternoon for the nuns in his order, who lost six of their sisters in “le catastrophe.” In an exceptionally touching ritual of hope, he gave each nun a piece of the rubble he retrieved from the ruins, and one by one they came up to the front to place it in a pot of a beautiful plant, and then again to pour water over the pot in a symbolic gesture of life arising out of death.
Above: Shifting through the Rubble. Photo by Dr. Judy Kurianksy. See more of Dr. Judy’s photos from Haiti.