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Mass brings ND, SMC community together in tragedy

Saoud, Angela | Thursday, September 16, 2004

Over 100 students, staff, family and friends gathered at Saint Mary’s Regina Hall chapel Wednesday night for a Mass for Ryan O’Connor, Jackie Miltenberger and their families.O’Connor, a 2002 Notre Dame graduate, was killed in a car accident near the Notre Dame campus Sunday morning. Miltenberger, who was also involved in the accident, is a current Saint Mary’s sophomore. Father Michael Connors, who presided over the Mass, explained that Wednesday was the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. “People are not attracted to sorrows,” Connors said. “Some might find it too depressing or sad, especially in death. We try to numb the pain, try to deal with our grief and sorrows, and this usually means doing so with a stiff upper lip. What we forget is that those who are left behind still suffer.”Connors’ homily focused on coping with the aftermath of a tragedy. “Today’s gospel showed Mary standing and watching her son’s death,” Connors said. “She did not have to be there, she could have ducked into hiding, but she didn’t.”At the end of the Mass, Connors reminded those at the mass to continue praying for everyone involved in Sunday’s accident. “We gather together today in times of heartbreak and sorrow to support the friends and loved ones of the people who have been touched by this terrible tragedy,” he said. “May the O’Connor and Miltenberger families find in us willing, hopeful companions in their moments of need.”Saint Mary’s students were notified of the Mass Tuesday through an e-mail from College President Carol Mooney. “The reason we decided to have a Mass is that this past weekend’s tragic accident affected the entire Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame community,” Mooney said. “In times of great sorrow and pain it is our tradition as Catholics to gather together in prayer.”