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Saint Vincent dedicates Mass to Las Vegas shooting victims

Stephen Huba
| Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, 1:27 p.m.
The Rev. Killian Loch, right, and the Rev. Canice McMullen conduct Mass in dedication to the victims of the shooting massacre in Las Vegas, on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 at Saint Vincent College's campus chapel, the Mary, Mother of Wisdom Chapel in Unity.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
The Rev. Killian Loch, right, and the Rev. Canice McMullen conduct Mass in dedication to the victims of the shooting massacre in Las Vegas, on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 at Saint Vincent College's campus chapel, the Mary, Mother of Wisdom Chapel in Unity.
Suzanne English, vice president of marketing and communications at Saint Vincent College, prays Wednesday during Mass, which the college in Unity dedicated to the victims of the shooting massacre in Las Vegas.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Suzanne English, vice president of marketing and communications at Saint Vincent College, prays Wednesday during Mass, which the college in Unity dedicated to the victims of the shooting massacre in Las Vegas.

Three days after the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, students and faculty at Saint Vincent College in Unity gathered to pray for and express solidarity with the victims.

The Rev. Killian Loch, chaplain and director of campus ministry, called prayer the best response to evil, even though it sometimes seems inadequate.

“The cross seems so heavy at times like this — 58 people dead, another 500 people still trying to recover from injuries, everything from gunshot wounds to stampede injuries suffered when 22,000 people tried to flee the gunman's aim,” Loch said.

Loch preached at the Mary, Mother of Wisdom Student Chapel at a Mass dedicated to the victims of the Las Vegas shooting.

“What a heavy cross for those that suffered such a sudden, unexpected loss,” he said. “What a heavy cross for their families and friends, some of whom looked on as their loved ones died and stood next to them.”

Loch said Wednesday's Mass was dedicated to the shooting victims because Oct. 4 is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the 13th-century saint known for his peacemaking efforts throughout his life.

Loch finished his homily with the Prayer of St. Francis, which states in part, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon.”

Theresa Vanden Berk, 19, of Latrobe said students at the Catholic college have been thinking and talking about the attack all week.

“We can't necessarily be there for those people because of the distance, but we can definitely give them our prayers and support,” said Vanden Berk, a sophomore biology major.

The Mass included petitions for the victims of the shooting, for their families, for an end to violence, for the safety of first-responders and for “all those who commit acts of violence ... that they may change their lives and turn to God.”

Citing the day's Scripture readings, Loch said Christ, the Apostle Paul and St. Francis offer a model for how to deal with suffering.

“The lesson for us (is) that in the midst of experiencing this tragedy and the loss of so many lives ... we honestly admit our weakness in comprehending this, but we find strength in our prayer together,” he said.

Without prayer, he said, “it's difficult to process” evil on a large scale. “If I had the answer to that, I'd be a millionaire,” he said.

Also this week, Cornerstone Ministries on William Penn Highway in Murrysville will dedicate its monthly “Time of Prayer for Our Country” to victims of the shooting. The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the church's Fireside Chapel, 2200 Cornerstone Lane.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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