Today let us mourn the dead and pray for them. Tomorrow let us recommit to love. And let us all brace ourselves for just action that will overcome the forces of division and build a more loving society.
We continue to pray for the El Paso and Dayton communities, as well as our Chicago neighbors, as they mourn the tragic loss of life due to violence over the weekend.
Many priests in the Diocese of El Paso have been formed at Mundelein, and they invite you to join them in prayer as they work diligently to provide pastoral support to families and victims.
Father Mike Lewis (’19) is an El Paso native and priest at St. Pius X Church – El Paso, TX – located one mile from where Saturday’s shooting took place. He led a prayer vigil in honor of the 20 victims, preaching passionately on how love will overcome hatred before heading back to the hospital to anoint and comfort more victims.
“I cried with them that night and then I told them I had to go to the hospital to help with anointings,” Fr. Lewis said, adding: “In the moment I was trying to do the most I could do to be with the people of God.”
Formation in the seminary prepares men to be priests, giving them a wide variety of practical and hypothetical experiences, but no one is ever fully ready to face a devastating shooting in their hometown. Fr. Lewis had previously ministered to families coping with difficult situations and grief during his clinical pastoral education, part of seminary formation, where served as a chaplain in the intensive care unit of a Dallas hospital.
Father Pablo Matta (’90) also responded to calls from two different hospitals to come and anoint some of the victims.
Parishioner Peter Kolar chose the reflection song “Vencerá el Amor” by Carlos A. Colón. “The song was written in honor of the martyrs of El Salvador, and whose words were so relevant for the martyrs of El Paso. With a feeling of nowhere else to turn, I knew I had to be in church, gathered in faith with my beloved community who prayed and mourned together,” Kolar said.
In a public statement, Most Reverend Mark J. Seitz, DD, Bishop of El Paso, said, “Our El Paso community will indeed rise above this terrible day. Our God is a loving God, greater than hatred, more powerful than evil. We trust that we will witness the fulfillment of his words, ‘See, I make all things new!’ (Rev. 21:5) Today let us mourn the dead and pray for them. Tomorrow let us recommit to love. And let us all brace ourselves for just action that will overcome the forces of division and build a more loving society.”
Photos: JOEL ANGEL JUAREZ/AFP/Getty Images, and Peter Kolar