Tuesday, July 6, 2021
Ana Rodriguez Soto - Florida Catholic newspaper
Photography: FLORIDA CATHOLIC | LA VOZ
MIAMI BEACH | Joined by Boston Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop Thomas Wenski visited the site of the partially collapsed Surfside condominium the afternoon of July 2, taking time to pray with members of the search and rescue crews, to view the memorial wall set up nearby and to bless and pray near the rubble.
Speaking to the media afterward, Archbishop Wenski said “one of the things that struck me, when I’ve been reading the names and the families of the survivors and the missing, is how much this building represents a microcosm of all of South Florida.”
Among the dead and missing are Spanish and English-speakers, Jews from Latin America, Catholics from South Florida, people from Russia and Southeast Asia, young families and retirees, snowbirds and tourists. Also present at the site are search and rescue crews from throughout the U.S. and as far away as Israel and Mexico.
As of July 6, Miami-Dade County officials said the bodies of 32 victims had been recovered while as many as 113 people were still unaccounted for. Nevertheless, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava was quoted as saying there are “only around 70 that we can confirm were in the building at the time of collapse.”
Searchers have been making better progress since the still standing portion of Champlain Towers South was demolished in a controlled explosion around 10:30 p.m. on July 4. Search and rescue crews can now access parts of the collapsed building that they could not reach before.
The archbishop’s visit to the site of the collapse was facilitated by Father Christopher Marino, rector of St. Mary Cathedral and chaplain to the City of Miami Fire Rescue. He, along with several other priests and deacons who serve as volunteer chaplains for the Miami-Dade Police, have been on site since the collapse providing spiritual accompaniment and support to the crews engaged in the difficult task of searching through the rubble for signs of life – and recovering the bodies of those who perished.
Writing in his blog, Cardinal O’Malley noted that he had arrived in Miami the night before “to spend a few days with friends and relatives around the Independence Day holiday.”
He wrote of the visit: “We prayed for those affected by the tragedy and met some of the relatives of those who are still missing. It was a very moving experience, but it was encouraging to see how the community has come together to help in the search for the missing and to try to bring comfort and solace to those who have lost family and friends.”
“On behalf of the Archdiocese of Boston,” Cardinal O’Malley added, “we also offer our prayers and support for the families impacted by the collapse. We know that God does not abandon us in our time of need. He is always present in our hour of grief.”