Campus Ministry holds prayer vigil for victims of gun violence

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Campus Ministry holds prayer vigil for victims of gun violence

At the chapel, attendees heard from more faith leaders and prayed together for victims of gun violence.

At the chapel, attendees heard from more faith leaders and prayed together for victims of gun violence.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

At the chapel, attendees heard from more faith leaders and prayed together for victims of gun violence.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

At the chapel, attendees heard from more faith leaders and prayed together for victims of gun violence.

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St. Joan of Arc Chapel brought light to what would have otherwise been a dark Thursday night this week, as students, faculty, and members of the Marquette community lit dozens of candles and sang hymns. The prayer vigil shed light on gun violence, as faith leaders spoke about how to combat this issue in our world today.

This ecumenical service to “stand in solidarity with victims of gun violence,” according to the Campus Ministry’s Facebook page, began at  7 p.m. After singing hymns and hearing from various religious leaders in the community, attendees lit candles and began a procession to the Holy Family Chapel in the Alumni Memorial Union. Once at the chapel, the group heard from more faith leaders and prayed together for victims of gun violence.

Morgan Frank, a junior in the College of Education and assistant to the liturgical director, helped set up the event.

Frank said she thinks Marquette’s mission to be the difference shows the community’s support for creating change when it comes to gun violence.

“I feel like it’s important to make that stance, and doing a prayer service can help build that community and show that it’s not just one person wanting to do this and be that change, but it’s multiple people. And multiple voices are better than one,” Frank said.

University President Michael Lovell was one faculty member in attendance at the service, and he said he is proud of Marquette for hosting this event.

“We have an epidemic of gun violence in our country and so many people are affected and so many people are hurt by this,” Lovell said. “And we really want to promote healing. And the way to promote healing is coming together. And it was great to have people from so many different faith communities and so many different segments of our populations here together to say in solidarity say, ‘We’re going to stand behind each other and stand behind victims of gun violence to end this senseless acts of individuals.’”

 Megan Heeder, a first-year Ph.D. student of theology also attended the service.

Heeder said she thinks gun violence is a “frustrating” situation because it is not always clear what we should do about it as individuals. 

“I mean voting gives you some kind of influence on what kind of laws are in place, but it’s really hard to make any kind of change,” Heeder said. “Like with climate change there are actions you can take, but gun violence is  really hard other than praying and supporting other people. So having something at Marquette that everyone in the community was able to participate in and offer both prayers and a visible presence was something I was interested in.”

Fr. Fred Zagone, acting vice president for mission and ministry, said he believes the service is important and that the effects of gun violence are so vast now. He said he thinks coming together in prayer is of utmost importance in times like this. 

Zagone said he hopes the students in attendance take the vigil’s message to heart and go out and make change in the community.

“We’re in a pretty isolated, pretty safe community here on campus,” Zagone said. “So we sometimes forget about these things going on around us, and sometimes we need to be reminded that we live in a city where bad things happen. And we need to do what we can to help fight that, whether it be challenging the legislatures in terms of gun laws, or fighting for the protection of the innocent people that might be hurt. That’s something we need to do. And a prayer like this tonight helps us do that.”

After the service concluded, attendees sang a final hymn and then had refreshments outside the Holy Family Chapel in the AMU, where they talked amongst themselves.

Lovell said he hopes the conversation doesn’t end here and instead starts more conversation and action among members of the Marquette community begins.

“I think at Marquette University, we believe in being inclusive and being welcoming to so many people and we believe that we should be part of the healing process,” Lovell said. “And we also believe we should be part of a dialogue so we can maybe start changing things around the country so we have less of these acts ongoing in the country.

Lovell added that the university wants students and faculty to know that Marquette values human life, and hopes to be part of the solutions to gun violence.

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