The Rev. Garcia Breneville, a priest at Christ the King Catholic Church in Brockton, returned home Tuesday night, one day before a 6.1-magnitude aftershock hit Haiti Wednesday. He says that when the quake struck, he and his 76-year-old parents heard a terrible noise, then the house began to shake. They began to pray.
The Rev. Garcia Breneville felt the house shake. Left to right. Left to right. Left to right.
“We heard then a terrible noise. We heard the noise coming from nowhere,” Breneville recalled, one day after returning from Haiti where an earthquake last week killed thousands.
Breneville and his 76-year-old parents — whom he had been visiting in Haiti — began to pray as the house swayed.
“Jesus, you are under control. Jesus, you are under control.”
They repeated the line. Over and over.
“It was good for us to say that,” Breneville said. “To have something to say, it really helped.”
Then, in less than a minute, it was over.
The family’s home, about seven miles from Port-au-Prince, the capital city hit hardest by the magnitude-7.0 quake, was still standing. Breneville and his parents were uninjured.
But the next day, when he traveled to Port-au-Prince to check on other relatives and friends, it was a different scene.
“It was something apocalyptic,” he said. “It was so terrible, you can’t really describe it.”
Buildings — including the cathedral — had collapsed. People were searching for relatives. And many were missing or dead.
“Many people passed away,” Breneville said. “Many families in Haiti lost someone.”
Breneville, a Catholic priest at Christ the King Church in Brockton, returned home Tuesday night, one day before a 6.1-magnitude aftershock hit Haiti on Wednesday.
“It is terrible,” he said.
His church is one of several organizations in the city now raising money to help the earthquake victims and console grieving relatives here.
A concert will be held Saturday at Brockton High School to raise money for relief efforts. Another concert is set for Jan. 31 at the Shaw’s Center.
The First Evangelical Lutheran Church is planning two benefit organ concerts. One will be in March and a second concert featuring Boston Symphony organist James David Christie will be held at a later date.
Stores and businesses are also stepping in.
L&M Bargain Store, 593 Centre St., announced it will donate 10 percent of its gross sales over the next two weekends to Catholic Charities agencies, Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the American Red Cross.
Westgate Lanes on Westgate Drive will donate 25 cents from every open bowling game from Jan. 23 through Jan. 28 to the Red Cross Haiti relief effort.
“This shows Brockton as a community is great and comes together to help,” said Koren Cappiello, director of community and social services for Mayor Linda Balzotti.
As the city and region mobilizes to help, relatives here are slowly getting word on the fate of loved ones in Haiti.
“Most of what we have heard is bad news,” said James Benson, parish administrator at First Evangelical Lutheran Church on Main Street.
Benson said a nurse at an assisted-living center near the church lost relatives, the pastor at Brockton Haitian Church in Brockton lost his nephew and several workers at the Boys & Girls Club learned relatives had been killed by the earthquake.
“Almost at every turn, there is someone connected with the tragedy,” he said.
Maria Ogando, the wife of Daniel Ogando, pastor at the Brockton Haitian Church, said she’s already talked with her sister and brother in Haiti and learned they were OK.
But her husband’s nephew was working in a private nursing school and died when the building collapsed.
“He is doing OK,” she said of her husband. “There are so many people. You have to think about everybody.”
Not all news was bad. Wilson Dolne of Brockton got a call from his sister in Haiti on Wednesday that she survived the quake.
“I’m so happy. She’s the only sister that I have,” Dolne said.
The Rev. David P. O’Donnell, pastor at Christ the King Church, said collections from the parish for the relief effort have been good and will be continuing.
So, he said, will be prayers.
“It is just like the tsunami,” O’Donnell said. “There is an urge to blame someone or something, but there isn’t anyone to blame. It is a natural disaster.”
Christ the King has held several services to pray for the Haitian victims and will continue to do so, he said.
The Brockton Assembly of God, 199 Warren Ave., will hold a memorial service on Friday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. as part of the ongoing effort by the Mass Emergency Relief for Haiti, a group of local residents and organizations.
Fred Fontaine, a local businessman who has relatives and friends in Haiti, said the latest quake in Haiti is making relief efforts harder.
“There is no water, no electricity, the government doesn’t know what to do, people don’t know where to start, where to go — and now, with the aftershocks coming up, people are finding life there even harder,” Fontaine said.
Maureen Boyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff writer Erik Potter contributed to this story.