Several hundred people gathered at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Sunset Park to attend a mass, marking the one month anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
"It is very painful," said Irme Alexis, a Haitian immigrant who lives in Marine Park, Brooklyn. "I have lots of family there, thank God my brothers survived, but I still lost three cousins and a friend."
Alexis was one of dozens who walked to the front of the cathedral to write the names those lost in the quake.
The mass, held both in English and French was held by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Brooklyn diocese. Auxiliary Bishop Guy Sansaricq, the first Haitian born bishop consecrated in the U.S., gave a sermon. The tragedy in Haiti, struck him very personally.
"There is great pain when you see the devastation," he said. "It strikes you in your heart."
The Haitian community in New York City is estimated at 400,000, with the largest concentration living in Brooklyn and Queens. The Diocese of Brooklyn announced they have raised more than a million dollars to help Haiti from parishes in Queens and Brooklyn. The most money came from the poorest parishes including Our Lady of Sorrow in Corona, Queens.
Bishop DiMarzio said, "The poor know how to help the poor. I think they understand because they've been there themselves."
Most parishioners, predominantly Haitian immigrants, were touched in some way by the tragedy. Jean Tropmas lost his younger sister in the quake.
"It gives some solace to be here, but it never gets easier," said Tropmas. "It's a loss that one did not expect it and hurts a great deal."