School shooting: Trying to find God in the unthinkable

People turned to prayer and God in Newtown on Friday in an effort to make sense of the unthinkable after a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, inside an elementary school.

Churches' doors swung open to a town shaken by one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history.

The gunman, identified by the Associated Press as Adam Lanza, killed 20 children between 5 and 10 years old inside the school shortly before 10 a.m. Lanza reportedly shot his mother, who according to some media reports, worked at the school.

“You have to give people a chance to pray. What else can we do in such a tragedy?” said Susan Kalbaugh, a Stephen Minister at Newtown United Methodist Church.

The small church located just up the street from the elementary school was also where an American Red Cross crisis team was stationed to counsel first responders. Its senior pastor, the Rev. Mel Kawakami, was one of many clergy called to the fire house to counsel grieving parents.

In addition to leaving the sanctuary open all day for prayer and counseling, the Methodist church held a prayer vigil Friday evening, one of many throughout the town.

But the inescapable thought on everyone's mind why would God allow such a tragedy?

Bonnie Fredericks, who owns a salon up the road from the school, said images of mittens, hot chocolate and little faces at the town's annual tree lighting last week, haunted her all day after the grim news become known.

“I don't know why God would let something like this happen,” Fredericks said.

At St. John's Episcopal Church, Joann Hornak said the church will be open for the community for as long as people need to find solace.

“This is monumental, horrendous, beyond comprehensive. I can't image what these families are feeling,” said Hornak, whose children attended Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Patricia Ryan saw the lights on at St. Rose of Lima and stopped to say a prayer.

“I just kept praying to Mary that she console the family,” Ryan said.

“I saw the lights on in the church, and I had to stop,” Ryan said.

3 Responses to “School shooting: Trying to find God in the unthinkable”

  1. Tiffany McCallen

    I don’t even have the right words to express the horror I felt today. Just awful.

  2. Tracy

    Beautiful story Ann Marie. This tragedy impacts so many people, including thoughtful journalists like yourself. Thank you for this.

  3. barbara benjamin

    Perhaps we also have to consider more closely our relationship with each other and with God more than our relationship with guns. Perhaps we have to put God at the center of our lives and let God’s Divine Love heal us so that we can,in turn, heal others. Getting rid of our guns will not change the contents of our hearts nor will it change our oppositional behavior toward each other, in our homes, in our communities, and in our governments. And getting rid of guns will not change the careless prescribing of pharmaceutical drugs that lead to homicidal and suicidal behavior in patients. Before these boutique drugs were developed, we never had such tragic events, and in the majority of these events, from Columbine to Sandy Hill, the perpetrators have been the victims of these drugs and their side effects.


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