Chicagoland

Local parishioners pray for Las Vegas victims

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
October 3, 2017

Local parishioners pray for Las Vegas victims

On Oct. 2, St. James Parish in Arlington Heights, held an evening prayer service where about 120 parishioners gathered to remember the victims of the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas that killed at least 59 people and wounded more than 500. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
On Oct. 2, St. James Parish in Arlington Heights, held an evening prayer service where about 120 parishioners gathered to remember the victims of the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas that killed at least 59 people and wounded more than 500. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic).
Father Matt Foley, pastor, preaches the homily. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Father Tim Fairman, pastor of St. Theresa Parish in Palatine, led an ecumenical "Prayer Service for Peace and to End Violence" Oct 6. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Father Tim Fairman, pastor of St. Theresa Parish in Palatine, lights a participant's candle during an ecumenical "Prayer Service for Peace and to End Violence" on Oct 6. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Members of the congregation pray at an ecumenical "Prayer Service for Peace and to End Violence" at St. Theresa Parish in Palatine on Oct 6. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Arlington Heights is about 1,810 miles from Las Vegas, according to Father Matt Foley, pastor of St. James Parish in the Northwest suburb.

But the people of St. James were close to the people of Las Vegas in their hearts Oct. 2, when about 120 parishioners gathered for a prayer service to remember the victims of the Oct. 1 shooting that killed at least 59 people and wounded more than 500 at an outdoor country music festival.

St. James was among several parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago that held prayer services or simply opened their doors for people to come in and pray in the aftermath of the massacre, the most deadly mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

“I think after something like this – after great blessings and great crosses – people feel a need to be with their God and with each other,” Foley said.

That was what brought JoAnne Mullen-Muhr to the church.

“You need to see the faces of your people, your community,” said Mullen-Muhr, who grew up in St. James Parish and now splits her time between Arlington Heights and Dayton, Ohio. “It’s like calling your loved ones. I called my daughter today, too.”

Foley said the parish decided to respond to tragic events with prayer services after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016. That shooting killed 49 people and wounded 58.

The service included prayers and readings from the Order of Christian Funerals, “America the Beautiful” and “Amazing Grace.”

Foley told the congregation that it takes about 25 hours to drive from his parish to Las Vegas, but it took only milliseconds for a social media post to alert parishioners to the opportunity to come together in prayer.

“We’re gathered here today to close the distance that geography imposes on us,” Foley said. “Sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers. This is who we are, and this is what we do. We don’t come seeking answers. We come offering our prayers. That’s the least we can do.”

He also invited parishioners to participate in the previously scheduled blood drive at the parish Oct. 7, in solidarity with the people who lined up for hours in Las Vegas to donate blood.

The loss, he said, is tremendous, and that will become more apparent in the coming days, as people learn more about the victims.

“We’ll start to see the stories, who they were, what they did, and who loved them,” Foley said.

As terrible as the loss is, he also highlighted the people – many of them simply concertgoers – who risked their own safety to help others.

“You are so struck by those who ran into harm’s way to protect those who had fallen,” he said. “Remember, we are the people of light, we are the people of hope, we are the people of rebuilding, we are the people of justice, we are the people of love. In the sense of loss, 1,810 miles away, we are united.”

That was why parishioner Dan Greising came.

“We want to support the people of Las Vegas,” Greising said. “To share our prayers and hope for peace.”

 

Topics:

  • shooting
  • las vegas

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