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Pastors offer help in days following Franklin Regional stabbings

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By Bob Stiles and Mary Pickels
Sunday, April 20, 2014, 10:42 p.m.

The Rev. William Lechnar speaks of hope when he addresses the tragedy at Franklin Regional Senior High School.

He is pastor of Mother of Sorrows Parish in Murrysville, where at least three of the 19 students stabbed on April 9 worship with their families.

“The message is one of hope and healing and trusting in God, and to take a bad situation and learn from it,” Lechnar said.

He declined to share what he said to the injured students or their families.

But he is urging everyone to pray a prayer each day between Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday on June 8:

Mary, Mother of Sorrows, you embraced your Son, Jesus Christ, throughout His life in times of joy and in times of pain.

Help us to learn from your example,

how to trust in God's providential care.

Help us to remember that even in times of darkness, your Son's light is here to guide us.

May our loving God give comfort to those who are in need of healing, grant forgiveness to all who seek it, and bestow faith, wisdom and courage

upon all who move forward and follow a path of holiness and truth.

We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Risen Lord and Savior. Amen.

“This prayer is open to everyone to make a commitment and really let that be known,” Lechnar said.

The students and the families directly involved are not the only ones seeking answers, he said. The search for understanding stretches from the heart of the Murrysville community into surrounding areas and beyond, Lechnar explained.

At the Easter Sunday 9:30 a.m. Mass, Lechnar addressed the community's recent struggles, and noted that Murrysville was not alone.

“The past days have been difficult here in our area, and we pray especially for those impacted in any way,” Lechnar said.

He noted more recent“tragedies,” and others in need of healing and hope, including the capsizing of a South Korean ferry carrying hundreds of high school students, and the avalanche that killed 13 Sherpa guides on Mt. Everest.

As he concluded his service, Lechnar asked parishioners and visitors to keep Murrysville in their prayers.

“We ask that you remember to pray for our entire community in the days ahead,” he said.

At Cornerstone Ministries on Route 22 in Murrysville, Senior Pastor Dr. Donn S. Chapman spoke primarily of Christ's resurrection at Sunday's noon service.

Chapman noted that some greeted the news of Jesus rising from the dead as “just a myth,” despite witnesses' accounts of the emptied tomb.

“You know we had a horrific event happen here in Murrysville in the last few weeks. You all know about the stabbing, the blood,” he said.

Chapman asked what they would say if, five years from now, people came to Murrysville and questioned if the attack even happened.

Many of them, he said, could say that they knew someone who was involved.

The church held a special service on Wednesday for people hurting because of the tragedy.

Several pastors and representatives of Inspire, a counseling service, attended the service along with about 500 people, said the Rev. Alan Hannah, Cornerstone's worship pastor.

“We wanted to offer peace and hope and comfort,” Hannah said. “We tell them to turn to God, who brings peace and comfort.”

Senior Pastor Susan Beth Hans of Ezra Ministries Christian Counseling in Delmont said she believes other issues will surface in the coming weeks because of the stabbings. She said she based her comments on what adults said to her.

“I think, right now, the feeling is everybody's trying to direct their actions into doing things, getting people involved in projects,” she said.

“But there are definitely some issues with how we treat others. There's an element of children who are not being treated right, whether it's how someone dresses, income ­— there's definitely some issues,” said Hans, a Franklin Regional graduate whose granddaughter attends the high school.

As time goes on, she expects more people to come to her ministry, which seeks to be a place “where people can find peace and some answers, hopefully,” she said.

Bob Stiles and Mary Pickels are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Stiles can be reached at 724-836-6622 Pickels can be reached at 724-836-5401 or

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