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Several families belonging to Miami Beach church remain missing, parishioners gather to pray and hope

Heartbroken parishioners gather to pray for church members missing after Surfside building collapse
Heartbroken parishioners gather to pray for church members missing after Surfside building collapse

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Pastor Juan Sosa of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church asked for prayers as nine families that belong to the church are missing after the Champlain Towers South building collapsed early Thursday morning.

Each family includes several people, so in total, about 25-30 people affiliated with the church remain unaccounted for.

One by one, Pastor Sosa read the names of the missing parishioners during Sunday mass at the Miami Beach church.

Twelve families that live at Champlain Towers South are members of the church.

Nine of those families are unaccounted for.

Janice Gudman told Local 10 News her 11-year-old granddaughter has been friends with two of the missing children since kindergarten.

“I feel incredibly sad,” she said. “The two little girls were Lucia and Emma. The girls were sweethearts”

Gudman and other parishioners are praying all the families will somehow be found alive.

Three families affiliated with the church are accounted for, including the family of altar boy Michael Lopez, who escaped with his parents from the part of the condo building that didn’t collapse.

“We heard rumbling. We thought it was thunder and lightning and since that’s common here, we just didn’t think about it,” Lopez explained. “But then a second thunder and lightning sound just moved the entire apartment, and then we realized, yeah, this is not a storm. This is something more serious.”

Church members say faith is more important than ever during difficult times like these.

“I came today to say a prayer and try to get some strength,” Gudman said. “It’s been a hard few days.”

The church will hold another mass at 6 p.m. Sunday, but that one will be in Spanish. There will be an English mass on Monday at 8 a.m.

About the Author:

Madeleine Wright is a general assignment reporter for Local 10 News. She joined the team in March 2017.