When we hear of a school shooting we immediately think of the families of the victims and how much they must be suffering. We forget that there are many others who are impacted by the tragedy, but most are forced to suffer in silence because they have a duty to provide comfort to those who have lost loved ones. This was very evident in Newtown when the unthinkable happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Monsignor Robert Weiss, the pastor at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, was called to the school to give last rites to victims, but to also provide solace to first responders. Father Weiss was in a great deal of pain from the trauma he was exposed to on that dreadful day, but he had to maintain his composure and bury his feelings. It wasn’t until later that he could share his feelings with fellow priests and get healing for the emotional wounds he had received. Throughout the week, the religious leaders in the community gave comfort to each other as they conducted funerals and consoled all those who were grieving. Ministers also received comfort from their own congregations. Reverend Kathleen Adams-Shepherd delivered a sermon from the center aisle at
Trinity Episcopal Church. She just had a longing to be standing as close as possible to members of her church during such a traumatic time. “God wrestles goodness and life and hope out of the darkest moments,” she told parishoners. Searching for words that would comfort those in pain, she said God hadn’t abandomed the community. “He was surrounding all the children. The 430 that made it out…and the 20 that did not. God was with them.” It was a very interesting perspective and one worth considering at a very dark time in the lives of those living in Newtown.