More than 100 people gathered Thursday night for a Taizé Prayer Service at St. Viator Catholic Community in Las Vegas, just one day after a shooting on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
It was a group of parishioners, all in their twenties, who took quick action to organize the public service. Their response mirrored what they had done six years earlier, shortly after the shooting massacre in Las Vegas, that took the lives of 60 people and wounded more than 400.
Their quick thinking came as no surprise to parish leaders. Most of them had grown up in the parish and participated in its Youth Ministry program, while also attending the National Catholic Youth Conference and the Viatorian Youth Congress. Consequently, they had witnessed powerful prayer experiences and they wanted to share that healing ministry with UNLV students.
The safety of St. Viator students who attend UNLV immediately came to mind, including Milly Colbert, Reagan Samson, Natalya Sayegh, Sammie Orris, Fareed Sayegh and Koskani Montoya. But they also knew that with the campus closed down for security reasons, students would have no place to seek peace and comfort.
They worked in collaboration with Fr. Daniel Rolland, OP, and the St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center at UNLV, to host the service. A flame of hope draped in red welcomed those who attended, while votive candles and red lighting graced the sanctuary.
Associates Anthony and Tommy Gugino organized the choir, with the help of Associate Ky Guerrero, Mike Kershaw, Wish Reed and Joe Koreski, while Vanessa Marshall and Mollie Singer played key roles in organizing the night.
“It was beautiful to see young adults in their late 20’s plan this for the community, with these young students and many more in mind,” said Associate Rosy Hartz, Youth Faith Formation Coordinator at the parish.
“We knew we had to do something for our young church,” Hartz added, “as they struggle to make sense of this.”