On the one month anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, FL, all of the Independence Mission Schools held a prayer service to remember the 17 slain victims. While many schools around the country staged a walk-out, St. Raymond School teachers and their Pastor, Fr. Chris Walsh, directed students to “walk-towards” the ways of God.
The day began with 4th thru 8th grade students proceeding to the School Hall, where Fr. Chris welcomed them and introduced a video containing facts and statistics about gun violence. Students were encouraged to take notes, write five facts from the video and discuss what they learned with each other.
Fr. Chris then facilitated an opportunity for students to meet five new people (students or adults) and learn one thing about them; seeking to end the isolation and stereotyping that so often leads to school violence and bullying. He then showed a video with the pictures and names of the 17 victims of the shooting. After watching the video, students and adults put on their coats and participated in a “walk-out” of the school – class-by-class and in silence to honor those who died and their families. The procession led the students to “walk to” the church for a prayer service.
The prayer service began with singing Amazing Grace, followed by the reading of psalms by members of the 8th grade class. Fr. Chris explained the meaning of each reading to the students, giving them examples which they could relate to. One of the teachers read the names of each victim and students from 4th & 5th grade placed a candle on the alter for each of the victims.
The special intercessions for the peace and comfort of these victim’s families; for the teachers, student body and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; and for the grace to reject violence and to promote a culture of life were read by the 6th grade students. The service concluded with praying the Lord’s Prayer and a blessing.