Finding strength in community

The campus community gathers for a vigil in the wake of shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas

By Rita Buettner

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As members of the campus community gathered in front of Loyola University Maryland’s Alumni Memorial Chapel for a noon vigil on Friday, July 8, they stood in small groups.

However, when two students, Joy Holland, ’18, and Precious Uwaya, ’18, came to the podium to begin the service, they started by inviting those present to draw closer to one another. So the individuals drew closer together, standing shoulder to shoulder in the shade of the trees on the Quad.

IMG_0174_2One by one, individuals present voiced their petitions related to the violence and loss of life in this week’s shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas.

“I ask that God hold closely the children who saw their fathers being killed,” said Donelda Cook, Ph.D., executive director of the Counseling Center at Loyola.

And the prayers continued, as those present prayed for all those affected, for comfort, for strength, for greater peace and understanding.

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Major of the Northern District, Richard Gibson, with Kassina Dwyer, ’19 (Photo courtesy of Major Gibson)

“I pray,” said one voice in the crowd of dozens gathered, “that we can put aside our differences.”

Kassina Dwyer, ’19, vice president of Loyola’s Black Student Association, challenged those present to step forward and act.

“We urge you to no longer be silent. Now is not the time for that. We urge you to sit with your discomfort and do what needs to be done.”

Many of those present wrote petitions on prayer flags, which will be displayed on the Quad through the next week.

“At times like this in our nation and our world, it is easy for us to draw boundaries. At moments like this, it is easy to stand in the shadow of the cross, and only feel the pain,” said Seán Bray, director of Campus Ministry.

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“More and more voices are calling for division. More and more voices are calling for hate. There are more reasons to stand apart,” Bray said. “We are called to understand the experience of the person standing next to us. We are called to take action. So today let us not move farther apart from each other.”

Read the message Loyola’s president, the Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., sent to the campus community on July 8, 2016.

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