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Franklin Regional families seek answers from pulpit

| Sunday, April 13, 2014, 11:24 p.m.
Evan Sanders | Tribune-Review
The Rev. William Lechnar leads parishioners in a prayer for the Franklin Regional community during Mass on Sunday, April 13, 2013, in Mother of Sorrows Church in Murrysville.
Evan Sanders | Tribune-Review
The Rev. William Lechnar prays for the Franklin Regional community during Mass on on Sunday, April 13, 2014, in Mother of Sorrows Church in Murrysville.

Murrysville found solace in prayer on Sunday, four days after violence invaded its high school.

Hundreds of people flocked to places of worship, where church leaders offered words of comfort to a community grappling with one its own students accused of using two knives to attack 20 classmates and a guard at Franklin Regional Senior High School on Wednesday.

“Lord, please fill in the answers for us and let us be lifted by you, to help those who need you and those who need guidance,” said Senior Pastor Dan Lawrence at Murrysville Alliance Church.

Several parishioners wore freshly printed T-shirts honoring students at Franklin Regional High, which has been closed since the rampage. Since then, members of the community have pulled together with fundraisers for victims' medical expenses, vigils and other measures of support.

On Palm Sunday, the Rev. William Lechnar invoked the Mother of Sorrows' anguish over the crucifixion of her son, Jesus, which turned to the joy of resurrection on Easter Sunday.

“She is our hope,” Lechnar told worshippers at Mother of Sorrows Parish, which is attended by 300 Franklin Regional high school students.

Three male students remain in critical condition in Forbes Hospital.

Jared Boger, 17, is in critical condition in UPMC Presbyterian, where the last in a series of planned surgeries was a success on Sunday, Dr. Louis Alarcon said. Surgeons repaired a knife wound in his abdomen, diaphragm and liver in four intentionally staggered procedures.

Boger no longer requires a ventilator and is breathing on his own, said Alarcon, who spoke with the teen for the first time on Saturday. “It was actually a big plus for me,” Alarcon said. “I was really impressed with his calm demeanor.”

Boger has a long recovery ahead, Alarcon said.

The accused attacker, Alex Hribal, 16, underwent a psychological evaluation on Sunday in Regional Youth Services Center in Hempfield, where he is being held since being charged as an adult with attempted murder and aggravated assault.

District administrators have planned a gradual transition for students to return to school. Students will be able to enter the high school and walk around the building on Tuesday with family members, if they wish, before classes resume on Wednesday.

“Those students that go back to that school will never look at that school the same way,” Lawrence told the worshippers at Murrysville Alliance Church.

He suggested that victims seek out the support of family, friends, a pastor and a professional, if necessary.

Others should be patient and willing to listen. “As friends, be available, but don't be pushy,” Lawrence advised.

The victims are contending with “a powerful shock that may have long-lasting effects,” the pastor said. “Their life is no longer normal as you define it.”

About 700 people attended a prayer service at Mother of Sorrows on Wednesday night, Lechnar said.

“It wakes people up that maybe they're not in control,” he said before Mass began at 11:30 a.m.

“We look to God at so many times and we ask why or how or what if,” Lechnar told the congregation. “Here we are, we trust in you, we embrace you, we accept your love.”

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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