The Catholic University of America

Jan. 14, 2010

 CUA Student with Family in Haiti Speaks at Mass

Catholic University Begins Nine Days of Prayer, Awareness and Fundraising for Haiti



Father O’Connell delivers the homily at a Mass offered for victims of the earthquake in Haiti.


Visit the CUA Cares home page

At a lunchtime Mass today, a Catholic University student who hasn’t been able to contact some of his relatives in Haiti urged members of the CUA community to support victims of the earthquake that struck near the capital of Port au Prince on Jan. 12.

“In Haiti, family is everything,” said Remy Gouraige, a sophomore economics major from Miami. “This is a situation that the Haitian peoples cannot recover from on their own: we need the help of our world family to provide relief, support and hope for any kind of a future for the country.”

The Mass, which drew an overflow crowd of students, faculty and staff, was announced yesterday as part of CUA’s response to the earthquake. (Click here to read more about “CUA Cares: A Novena of Prayer and Action for the People of Haiti.”) The Mass marks the beginning of the novena — nine days of prayer — which will continue until Friday, Jan. 22. To view a live video of the Mass, click here.

Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., university president, was the main celebrant for the Mass and delivered the homily.

“John’s Gospel urges us in the midst of the smoke and rubble and devastation of last Tuesday night, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God,’ ” he said. “What brings us together today is death, the death of so many. What joins us together today, however, is life and faith.”

In addition to Gouraige, other CUA students with family in Haiti attended the Mass with their friends who have been supporting them during this tragedy.


Sophomore Remy Gouraige has relatives in Port au Prince.


“I think this Mass is one example of how caring our community is,” said Sal Biase, a sophomore media studies major from Brick Township, N.J. “Today we saw people give up a lunch period so they could offer their prayers and petitions to those affected by the earthquake.”

As a student minister, Biase has been spending time with and supporting Gouraige.

“I think it’s our job (as student ministers) to be present for the students affected by the tragedy,” Biase says. “I think CUA’s response was quick and prayerful and that’s what was needed.”

“For my family, for me … this disaster is hitting very close to home,” said Gouraige, whose parents emigrated from Haiti. “I have aunts, cousins, and several other relatives who we haven’t heard from, and they are only a few of the hundreds of thousands of people who are being affected.”



Students, faculty and staff in Caldwell Chapel.

Gouraige spoke at the Mass to encourage the CUA community to offer prayers and support to those affected in Haiti. Through CUA Cares, students will work to spread awareness about Haiti, encourage prayer during the nine days of the novena and raise funds that will be sent to Catholic Relief Services for recovery efforts in Haiti.