Fr. Pete McCormick, assistant vice president for Campus Ministry, presided over a prayer service to end hatred and gun violence in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Monday.
The altar was lined with candles, each accompanying a notecard with the name of a city that experienced gun violence in the past month. Jan. 2023 was a month with a record number of 49 mass shootings.
A student speaking at the service said that according to the gun violence archive website, “a mass shooting is defined as an event in which a minimum of four people are injured or killed, not including the shooter.”
The service began with an opening hymn and remarks from McCormick. Then, a passage from the Gospel of Matthew 5, known as the Beatitudes, was read. This well-known chapter of the Bible preaches blessings for all people, including those who mourn, peacemakers and those who are persecuted.
The Gospel reading was followed by a reflection from Margaret Pfeil, a teaching professor in the department of theology and the Center for Social Concerns. Pfeil reflected on the Beatitudes and said that they are “an invitation to feel good” and a call to become peacemakers.
Pfeil discussed her personal experience with the Phillips family who were affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. Pfeil concluded by quoting St. Francis of Assisi: “While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.”
Two students then came forward to speak the names of 49 cities that experienced gun violence during the past month. The sheer amount of cities that the students listed emphasized the significance of the issue at hand.
McCormick concluded the service by leading a prayer for those who have been involved in gun violence and for an end to gun violence.
“Give us strength to walk in more ways to stand against injustice, to pray and advocate for peace,” McCormick said.
Upon departure, Campus Ministry handed out an informational flier with statistics about gun violence in the U.S. and action items to take to prevent gun violence. The flier cited James 2:14-26, which says that “prayer bears fruit in action.”
Action items listed include sending a letter to representatives and other local leaders, joining various Campus Ministry faith and justice initiatives and promoting safety on campus. Contact Becky Czarnecki at email@example.com to stay involved with Campus Ministry faith and justice initiatives.