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ND students attend prayer service for victims of marathon

Nicole Michels | Tuesday, April 16, 2013

More than 800 miles from the site of Monday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, the Notre Dame community gathered in solidarity with the attack’s victims during an evening prayer service in Geddes Hall.

Freshman Jake Grefenstette helped organize the prayer service in Our Lady of Mercy Chapel on Monday evening. The service drew approximately 90 students to the chapel fewer than 12 hours after the first explosion in Boston.

“There’s definitely an expectation at this University that we respond to things with faith, and it was definitely incredible to see that happen here,” Grefenstette said.

Grefenstette said the numbers exceeded what the organizers had expected.

“Some people were worried if we were even going to be able to fill the chapel, but we ended up having to go and tap every room surrounding the chapel to pull in chairs, and we had people standing and sitting on the ground,” he said.

Student body president Alex Coccia said he hoped all in attendance would reflect on the events and the content of University President Fr. John Jenkins’ statement, which he issued Monday evening.

In his statement, Jenkins encouraged all to not lose sight of their need for support.

“The prayers of the Notre Dame community are with those who lost their lives and were injured, as well as with their families and friends, in the bombing Monday in Boston,” Jenkins said in the release. “Such tragic events have become all too common in our world, and yet I call upon all to avoid treating them as routine, but instead to lift up those who are suffering.”

At the service, Coccia called upon students to internalize this willingness to lift up the victims of Monday’s attack.

“Something Fr. Jenkins said in his statement was about the need to make sure we do not view these things as routine and that we continue to act against them, against violence like this,” Coccia said.

Notre Dame junior Chris Glueck was among the students to share his reflections on the bombings and their aftermath, calling students to remember those injured and deceased and all of those affected by the day’s events. Glueck invited students to consider their roles as the “light of Christ in a time of darkness.”

“As we stand here, we stand upright in the face of violence, just as Christ did,” Glueck said. “He taught us not to run in the face of darkness, not to take fear at the violence, but to counter it with light – with His light. When our brothers and sisters around us weep, often the only thing we can do is to offer them a shoulder.”

Other students stood before the crowd in the chapel to read Bible passages and offer petitions for those affected by the bombing. When students shared their own intentions, some prayed for healing for the victims in Boston and the first responders, as well as for compassion on the part of journalists and elected officials who are handling this crisis.

Freshman Bridgid Venard said she came to the service because although her family was not directly affected, many of her friends were struck by the tragedy.

“I do have a lot of friends at Boston College, and one of my very good friends was [running] in that marathon,” Venard said. “She was at her 22nd mile [when the bombs went off] and I believe it happened at the 26th mile, so she was very close to where it happened. I’m very thankful to God that she was okay, along with her sister.

“This was indeed a tragedy, and we need to come together and somehow grow from it.”

Junior Brian Duffy said he wanted to stand in solidarity with those hurt by the tragedy.

“My No. 1 motivation to attend was out of support for those affected – the city of Boston, the families involved and the nation,” Duffy said. “Secondly, I wanted to pray that this wouldn’t inspire further acts of violence.”

Coccia said student government planned to reach out to Boston College to coordinate a join support effort. He invited any students with ideas about the shape of that support to contact him or student body vice president Nancy Joyce.

Contact Nicole Michels at nmichels@nd.edu