In front of a crowd of about 70 parishioners, Father Juansosa listed the names of members of the St. Joseph Catholic Church reported by friends and family to be missing at the collapsed Champlan Tower South Condo on Thursday. .. Five people died and 156 were unexplained.
One missing child, 11-year-old Lucia Guara, received her first communion in the church, he said.
Her father Marcus (52 years old), mother Anna (41 years old) and sister Emma (4 years old) are all missing.
The priest left a paper binder so that parishioners could pray for them, leaving the names of missing friends and family that others would like to report.
The atmosphere of the church, just two blocks from where the rescue team continued to dig rubble, was solemn, with people coming and going for the masses at 8:30 am and 10 am.
“We pray for them,” Saucer said. “And for anyone else you might know.”
Radames Ocasio, 69, clasped his hand behind the church and bent his head in prayer. He was one of the last to leave the tear-filled Sunday morning Mass.
The idea of September 11, 2001 went through his head. As a first responder, he still has vivid memories of smells, emotions, and photographs of pieces of paper near fences nearby.
“It brought me back soon,” said Ocasio, a 21-year New York City Fire Department veteran when he was stationed to retrieve the body from the World Traders Center. “It brought back some really, really difficult memories.”
He soon retired and moved to Florida, saying “too many deaths.” He wants first responders, who are part of the surfside search and rescue team, to be treated for trauma that they haven’t yet faced.
“I have nothing to prepare them for body parts, odors,” he said. “They had no idea what they would return to.”
Yolanda Galai, 60, has been a hygiene coordinator for the church and has kept parishioners safe from Covid-19 for over a year.
But today she mourns the life lost in the collapse of the Champlain Tower South Condo, just three blocks from the church.
“I know many people here are lost,” said Garai, who opened the door to the parishioners and welcomed them in a small church. “We pray for all, dead or still alive. It’s very sad for our community.”