For weeks, they followed news reports of a leveled Port-au-Prince.
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They listened to estimated death tolls, stories about the growing number of refugee camps and outbreaks of cholera.
They wondered about destruction in outlying areas.
And they worried about their friends.
For about 15 years, there has been a special relationship between St. Ann and St. Claire Catholic Church in the diocese of Dessalines, Haiti.
The connection is spiritual — praying for each other; human — visiting each other and doing service projects; and material — financing programs to fight poverty and promote education.
But, along the way, it also has become personal. Friendships have been formed.
That's why local church members were greatly relieved to learn that the people of Dessalines suffered little damage from the earthquake.
They've become like family to the local church community.
St. Ann and St. Claire officially became sister parishes in 2004 when the Hagerstown church became one of 20 parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore to have sister parishes in the diocese of Gonaives, Haiti.
But the connection between the two churches really began in 1997, said Agnes Supernavage, head of the Haiti outreach committee at St. Ann.
"One of St. Ann's parishioners, Pat Firey, went to Haiti with a group from the Archdiocese of Baltimore to do volunteer work," Supernavage explained. "She met the pastor of St. Claire at that time and upon her return to Hagerstown, got the pastor of St. Ann interested in promoting access to education and tuition assistance in Haiti."
Since then, St. Ann parishioners have helped Haitians build classrooms and pay teachers' salaries, have started a sustainable agriculture program that helps St. Claire lease and purchase land and grow rice for a feeding program, as well as cash crops for profit.
They've also shared their expertise on a wide range of subjects when they travel twice a year to visit their sister parish.
The trips include a one-week service trip in February, which usually involves teaching skills to adults and children, Supernavage said. About five or six local people make the trip.
During the summer, about 10 St. Ann teens and adults head to Haiti for a one-week camp for about 100 children from the three schools of St. Claire.
"The camp is merit- based for the Haitian kids and we hear that it is a powerful incentive for the students to excel in order to be selected for camp," Supernavage said.
This past February, St. Ann parishioners once again traveled to their sister parish — but this time there was a special request.