Rev. Juan Sosa of St. Joseph Catholic Church told CNN about 20 to 25 of his parishioners are unaccounted for after the Champlain Towers South collapsed last Thursday. The parish is only a five minute walk from the building.
Sosa said he shared many milestones with victims of the collapse. In particular, the pastor worked closely with Marcus Guara, a parishioner who has been found dead. Sosa baptized Guara’s daughter, Emma Guara, and helped his other daughter, Lucia Guara, with her first communion. The two daughters and their mother are still unaccounted for.
Sosa also said Hilda Noriega, the 12th victim found dead after the collapse, was a close member of his parish.
“I did conduct the funeral of her husband years ago. And now her son just called me this morning about the funeral that will be prepared,” the pastor said.
Throughout the past week, Sosa has provided support to the Surfside community. On Sunday, the pastor created a remembrance binder, listing the names of parishioners who are unaccounted for. Sosa told CNN he then invited the community to add the names of other victims, regardless of their religious affiliation.
“So we have a little symbol – the Paschal Candle that is lit all day until the evening that represents the resurrection of Christ for us and that we receive a baptism, as well as the flowers,” Sosa said.