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Community unites for Las Vegas victims through prayer service

| Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Notre Dame community honored the nearly 60 people killed and more than 500 injured in Sunday’s shooting at a country music concert in Las Vegas. Earlier in the day, University President Fr. John Jenkins released a statement expressing his condolences and the day ended with a 9 p.m. prayer service at the Grotto on Monday.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the awful carnage in Las Vegas,” Jenkins said in a statement. “We pray that there comes a day when the senseless violence that has plagued the nation for so long ends for good.”

According to an email from Campus Ministry, the bells of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart tolled in honor of the victims from 3 p.m. – 3:05 p.m. Later, at 5:15 p.m., special prayers were offered for the victims in Las Vegas at the Annual Red Mass, at which Fr. Kevin C. Rhoades, the Bishop of Fort Wayne–South Bend diocese, presided. At 9 p.m., director of Campus Ministry, Fr. Pete McCormick, led a prayer service at the Grotto.

Allie Green, Campus Ministry’s assistant director of liturgy, emphasized the community element of the service.

“The only way we can come together to make sense of this is together in groups,” Green said. “We can try to make sense of this violence as one family.”

Green also noted the importance of the Grotto as the venue for the service.

“How blessed we are to a have a sacred space like the Grotto to pray,” she said.

Kate Barrett, associate director of liturgy, also stated the importance of gathering as a community.

“I think the thing about events such as last night is that there is a lot of fear surrounding it because it is so unpredictable,” she said. “One of the things we hope comes out of this is solidarity,” Barrett said. “You can only overcome hatred and violence through prayer, community and peace.”

Barrett agreed that selecting the Grotto as the venue was an important choice.

“The Grotto is a place where people come to find comfort,” she said. “We chose it, as opposed to a mass or a rosary, so that we could include everyone.”

The service itself consisted of a hymn, an opening prayer, a reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, intercessions, the Lord’s Prayer and the alma mater. Once the alma mater was finished, the assembled community members exchanged signs of peace before many entered the Grotto itself to light candles in honor of the victims. Throughout, quiet weeping pervaded the air.

After the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, McCormick issued a call for unity.

“As we conclude this prayer with our hands joined, let us remember that we are stronger together,” McCormick said. “Just as we stand here at this Grotto, that emanates forth light, it is made brighter by the candles united together. The same is true for us.

“In a day in which darkness seemingly prevailed, always remember that the light is within. That what we have to offer this world is made most profound in our unity, the ways in which we come together to share for love one another, and share compassion for one another. You can always, and I promise this, always, be the change you want to be in the world by simply joining hands, as we do tonight.”

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