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Candlelight vigil honors 9/11 victims

Kelly Konya | Thursday, September 12, 2013

In remembrance of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Saint Mary’s students and faculty gathered together for an evening candlelight memorial service in the Atrium of the Student Center on Wednesday.

Director of Campus Ministry Judy Fean said the College has offered a similar prayer service since the events 12 years ago.  

“The Saint Mary’s community always remembers Suzanne Kondratenka (Class of 1996), Amy Jarret, niece of Fr. Peter Jarret, Fr. Francis E. Grogan, a Holy Cross priest, and all others who died in the attacks,” Fean said. “We gather to pray for their loved ones and all who have suffered since that day.”

Last year, Fean said members of Kondratenka’s family and friends were able to attend the service.

“They are a sign to us of what it means to continue to find life in the face of death,” Fean said.  “We light candles to remind us that God alone is light in the darkness, and God alone will guide us in bringing the light of hope to a war-torn world.”

First-year Yaritza Vidaurre said the candles made the event particularly spiritual.

“It reminded me of being at the Grotto in ways,” Vidaurre said.  “It was so serene and all of the prayers said for the victims of the attacks seemed even more special.”  

Sophomore ministry assistant Kelly Gutrich led the event, guiding students in prayer, intentions and a sign of peace.

“I think the event really captured the spirit of remembrance for all of our fallen heroes,” Gutrich said,  “especially with the SMC choir group, Bellacapella, performing from the upper level of the Atrium like angels.”

Senior Galicia Guerrero, a peer minister, read Scripture and offered her reflection at the vigil.  The reflection summarized the well-known story of doubting Thomas and the importance of believing in God despite the evils of the world.

Junior Grace McSorley said Guerrero’s reflection was inspirational and imparted a great message to students.

“It was nice to be able to reflect on such a well-known Scripture passage with a different angle,” McSorley said.  “So many of us have been directly or indirectly impacted by 9/11, and the service brought about a very calming end to the day.”

This past weekend in Ann Arbor, McSorley said she met a man who made her reflect on the struggles of the victims’ loved ones.

“He has been involved in organizing an annual retreat for children, though now adults, who lost one or both of their parents in the tragedy,” McSorley said. “Talking to him made me think about the people who are still affected every day by the events, and it really made me appreciate the prayer service all the more.”

Fean said the prayer service was not only for 9/11 victims, but also for the current members of the armed forces.

“I know that several people who gathered have family members and friends who have died in the War on Terror since this day,” Fean said.  “Prayer in community is powerful and a great witness to hope and healing regardless of what is going in our lives and in our world.”