Local prayer vigil mourns those lost in mass shootings

by Jean McKenna
“Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more” (Jer. 31:15 NIV). Beginning with this lamentation from time immemorial, a candlelit prayer vigil sponsored by the Claremont Interfaith Council on May 28 captured a wide range of emotions in response to recent mass shootings in the United States — sorrow, tears, anger, confusion and fatigue, yet also, resolve. The host was St. Ambrose Episcopal Church led by the Rev. Jessie Smith with participation by local faith communities and friends.

The sanctuary at St. Ambrose Church held a child’s elementary school chair representing “all those who are no longer with us,” especially the young victims of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Candles represented each victim of recent mass shootings.

Music was the most effective medium at the Prelude to Action. Highlights included songs of mourning by Trio Sol de Amores, and the Native American “Song for the Children” introduced by Al Villanueva and accompanied by a drum like a heartbeat. The traditional anthem “De Colores,” a song about innocence, unity and hope, honored the bilingual community of Uvalde in a heartfelt rendition by Roberto Roman.

Trevor Thomson’s new composition, “Something Inside Our Heart Needs to Change,” captured the essence of the evening with its call for justice, mercy and love. Another new hymn, “God, Our Nation Feels the Loss” by Carolyn Gillette, was a more pointed call to confront violence.

Claremont’s mayor Jed Leano stands with presenters at the Prelude to Action prayer vigil sponsored by the Claremont Interfaith Council at St Ambrose Episcopal Church. Photo by Susan Brunasso


There were no sermons, only testimony from Efren Herrera about his community service in Uvalde, a psalm reading from the Rev. Karen Sapio, a prayer from the Rev. Marianne Cordova-Breen and a litany with the refrain, “We refuse to be consoled” led by the Reverends Lara and Rene Martin. A reading of a list of mass shootings in the United States over the past 20 years by the Rev. Maggie B. Yenoki and Greg Marshall, Sr., lasted ten minutes, including incidents at churches, schools, theaters, stores, nightclubs and workplaces.

The call to action at the end consisted of an invitation to prayerfully consider and write down a personal commitment to support victims and work to end the violence of mass shootings. The concluding prayer was led by the Rev. Jacob Buchholz.


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