Highland Park pastor joins service for El Paso mass shooting

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Following the third anniversary of the El Paso mass shooting and the recent July 4, 2022, shooting in Highland Park, Father Fabian Marquez of the Diocese of El Paso, and Father Hernan Cuevas, pastor of Immaculate Conception and St. James Parish in Highland Park, led an Aug. 10, 2022, prayer service at the El Paso Walmart shooting memorial. The service sought to unite the hearts of all communities that have experienced senseless mass shootings. (Photos courtesy of Catholic Extension)

In commemoration of the third anniversary of the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, Father Hernan Cuevas, pastor of Immaculate Conception and St. James Parish in Highland Park, joined Catholic Extension in El Paso for a prayer service for peace and healing on Aug. 10.

During the service, which took place at the memorial in the Walmart parking lot, people also prayed for the victims of recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, as their names were read aloud.

Father Fabian Marquez of the Diocese of El Paso led the service. Marquez is pastor of El Buen Pastor (Good Shepherd) Parish, which is located near the Walmart. He comforted the families of victims and celebrated funerals for many of the 22 people who died in the Aug. 3, 2019, shooting.

Cuevas and Marquez share a bond no priests want to have, but Cuevas said he was grateful to meet Marquez.

“You hear on the news about these shootings, but when you are part of the whole experience, it changes your whole perspective,” Cuevas said. “This was a great opportunity for me to connect with him. Obviously, we’re two brother priests. We have our same background in terms of our faith that makes us strong and brings us together in times of crisis.”

Cuevas and about 25 parishioners were preparing to join the Highland Park July 4 parade with their float when the shooting took place.

It is important to take time together in prayer and support each other through faith, he added.

“One of the things that we do know as believers, we trust in God’s care for all of us,” Cuevas said. “And we know how important prayer is for all of us as we heal, as we come together, as we recover. That was the main goal of our prayer, to continue to bring about peace and healing and comfort to those who have been recently affected by these mass shootings. We’re all one in God’s hands and we want to bring the sense of faith and hope.”

During a press conference following the service, Cuevas said the people of Highland Park and El Paso are now connected through the tragedies.

“We’re all in this together. We’re praying for one another,” he said. “The stronger we become based on these experiences, I think, the more influence we can have in our society to understand that we’re all one family of God. When a family member suffers, we all suffer.  So let’s bring that kind of light, and love and the experience of our faith to everywhere that we go so we won’t have to go through this again.”

Marquez agreed.

“Obviously, we will never forget what happened here at Walmart, and the families affected around the country who are experiencing this as well, they’ll never forget it, but they can learn from us that time heals and that we will survive this, especially when you have a support system,” he said. “And I believe that Catholic Extension, who made this possible, brings that to the table. They bring communities to El Paso where they learn and heal.”


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