Jessica and Brent Shimman, left, with their daughter Isabel, 11 months, pray with Laura Angel, pastor of The Rock Church, for victims of the shootings in Connecticut. They gathered outside Coy Elementary in Oregon.
The Blade/Lori King
They gathered in churches and outside schools, in prayer and in sorrow, in forgiveness and remorse.
Nearly a week to the minute before, a man killed more than two dozen people in Newtown, Conn.
At 9:30 a.m. Friday, people in northwest Ohio and across the country joined for a moment to remember those who died.
As the country begins heated debates about what should be done in the wake of the shootings — debates that will inevitably drive wedges between people — this was a moment to join together.
In the Oregon school district, local clergy led prayers on the sidewalk outside each school and the administration building. The events were geared to not interfere with the school day, organizers said.
At the Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel, the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania held a prayer service in memory of the victims. Sister Joan Jurski, director of Franciscan spirituality experiences, said it was a chance for the community to join together.
“We believe that God will always find good out of any tragedy,” she said. “Good always triumphs evil.”
Scores filled the chapel for the service, and some were moved to tears when the victims were named. Of the 27 who were killed in Newtown, most were children at Sandy Hook Elementary.
They rang the chapel bells 27 times, and Sister Theresa Darga and Sister Carol Ann Grace recited the name of a victim with each ring.
And then they said Adam Lanza’s name, and asked that all those who suffer mental illness receive the support and services they need.
The sisters didn't hesitate to include his name in the service, Sister Jurski said.
“As people of faith, we believe that every human person has a certain dignity,” she said. “Adam was a victim of his own mental illness. What he did was terrible. His actions were awful. But as a person, we have to look at him and say he was a victim of mental illness.”
Sister Jurski hoped that what happened in Newtown won’t fade from news cycles and the public consciousness.
Now, she said, is a time for action.
“We pray that something will be done to really recognize mental illness, and what we do to help people,” she said.