Prayer service remembers slain Officer Ella French

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Service remembers Officer Ella French

Father Dan Brandt, chaplain for the Chicago Police Department, leads a prayer service on Aug. 11, 2021 outside of the 16th District Headquarters. Hundreds of police, fire and other first responders and their families turned out for the service to remember Officer Ella French, who was killed in the line of duty on Aug. 7, 2021, and to support police officers. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Police officers were joined by hundreds of their supporters for the service. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
A child holds a flag during the service. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Officers bow their heads in prayer. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
A man takes a photo of the display of photos of Officer French and Officer Carlos Yanez Jr. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Firefighters watch the service from the top of a truck. They attended to show their support for their fellow first responders. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

About 400 people filled Milwaukee Avenue in front of the Chicago Police Department’s District 16 headquarters in Jefferson Park on the evening of Aug. 11 for a prayer service led by Father Dan Brandt, director of the department’s chaplaincy.

They gathered to pray following the killing of Officer Ella French, 29, who was shot on Aug. 7 during a traffic stop in Englewood. Her partner was also shot and, at press time, remained in critical condition more than a week later.

French’s funeral was scheduled for Aug. 19 at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel, 7740 S. Western Ave. Cardinal Cupich was to be the main celebrant.

Patty Kleinhubert, a parishioner of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Parish, 6020 W. Ardmore Ave., has a family full of firefighters, police officers, Marines and nurses and said she attended the service in Jefferson Park to show her support for all first responders.

“We’re always here to support each other as a community and especially for police and fire, and each other. No matter what,” she said.

“We have a lot of police and firemen that have been part of the parish community for a long time. That’s the makeup here,” said Joe DiCiaula, also a parishioner of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. “It’s things like this that help you try to stay true to your faith. It’s things like this where people are willing to get together and pray for wrongs and injustices that they see.”

Deacon Al Lopez from St. Aloysius Parish also attended the service, and said police officers need prayers and support.

Lopez was a Chicago Police Officer for many years and serves as a full-time chaplain in retirement. He has over 20 family members who are police officers.

“We’re here in District 16 supporting the police officers and letting the guys know that we’re behind them, them and their family. That’s why you see such a big crowd here today,” Lopez said.

When he visits police stations for roll call he tries to lift the officers’ spirits.

“We tell them they were called, they were chosen to do this job and don’t give up,” Lopez said. “We let them know that we care.”

Prayers help.

“Keep praying for them. They are husbands and wives. They have children. They have family,” he said. “They take that oath. That reminds me of Matthew 25: Blessed are the peacemakers.”

Brandt has been ministering to the officers who were on the scene the night French was killed and others who may be going through a tough time. He has also been accompanying her family, especially her mother, as they make funeral arrangements.

It is not easy seeing what officers see every day, Brandt said.

“They see more evil in an eight- or 10-hour tour than most people see in a lifetime,” he said.

Having faith in God helps.

“Many of our officers are people of rich faith. It’s my job as chaplain to remind them that they are doing God’s will,” he said. “I try to remind them of the sacred nature of their work as often as I can.”

Because French died doing God’s work of protecting others, it gives her death a little more meaning, Brandt said.

He was to lead a St. Jude Service during French’s wake on Aug. 18 at St. Rita Chapel, which is a special tradition for any police officer who dies. Brandt said he would preach about French’s uniqueness, which includes her adoption at age 4.

“She was chosen by her mom. It’s a little different from being assigned a child the natural way,” Brandt said. “And frankly, because there will be several thousand police officers there from all over the country and Canada, I’m going to speak to their noble vocation.”


  • chicago police
  • anti-violence

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