Miami parish says 10 families still missing
MIAMI BEACH, Florida (CNS) — The people and staff of St. Joseph Parish are living the crisis of the Surfside condominium collapse in a most intimate way.
No other Christian house of worship is so close to the ground zero of Champlain Towers South as St Joseph. The remains of the tower that went down and the still-standing tower can be easily seen from the church grounds.
Then there is the human connection: parish pastor Fr Juan Sosa has reported that 10 of its registered families remain missing following the collapse and two families who were not in the building at the time are safe.
It is possible, Fr Sosa said, that other families who lived in Champlain Towers South and who worshipped at St Joseph informally may be among the missing. The area is known as a vacation spot full of short-term rentals and international visitors from South America and beyond.
“Plus there are the many who used to come on weekends from other parts of Miami who have worshipped with us, and so we are very touched by the idea of the whole community being bound together and praying together,” Fr Sosa said before celebrating Mass for the missing, their family and friends.
“For us it is very important to have something to do at this time to bring hope to those people.
“I have visited the place many times and I have been to dinner with some of those members that are missing.
“It was horrendous because I didn’t know exactly what part of the building many of those families lived in, but apparently the 10 families were in that part of the building that collapsed, and some of those who are OK lived in the standing building.”
Fr Sosa visited the family reunification centre at the nearby Surfside Community Centre twice on the day after the catastrophe to counsel families.
He also has opened the parish parking lot for the visiting search and rescue and volunteer teams who are working on the site.
More than 150 people are reported missing and there are nine confirmed deaths.