One day after a three people were fatally shot on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and another seriously wounded, young parishioners at nearby St. Viator Catholic Community are responding.
“After talking to Fr. Daniel from the Newman Center and realizing he had no place to gather for prayer with the campus shut down, we decided to work together,” says Associate Rosy Hartz, Youth Faith Formation Coordinator. “His students will be coming and helping with readings and of course have a community to pray with.”
The parish has invited its parish members and school families, as well as Viatorian associates, and the communities at Cristo Rey St. Viator and Bishop Gorman High school, all in the Las Vegas area.
“Whether 10 people show up or 50, we have to do something for our young church as they struggle to make sense of this,” Hartz adds.
It was young people at the parish who organized the first service in response to the shooting massacre that took place Oct. 1, 2017 in Las Vegas. They had experienced the meditative prayer experience while attending the Viatorian Youth Congress that summer and they wanted to bring it back to their parish.
When they had such a strong turnout the first time, they decided to make it regular occurrence, with Taizé prayer services now taking place every month.
But tonight’s service is a direct response to the traumatizing events of Wednesday’s shooting, Hartz says.
“One of our teens was looking for a place to go in the chaos and the Newman Center had their doors open to students and he was able to go there yesterday,” Hartz says. “Another student hid in the library for four hours. Another had to leave her dorm as it was searched and she was not allowed to return. We have an adult parent who teaches on the 4th floor where the shooting was, however she was at home and is struggling with the guilt of being alive.”
Much as they did back in 2017, college students from the parish have volunteered to work the service tonight. They have helped to find readings and are carpooling to come since their cars are stuck on the closed campus.
“Everyone is invited to attend,” says one of the organizers, Associate Anthony Gugino, “and all are welcome to join us in praying for — and with — the UNLV Community.”