Pastoral Letter November 17, 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Yesterday, once again, a fatal shooting rang out in an American high school.

I know the area around Saugus High School very well. My son played football against its rival schools. I am seeing in my mind’s eye the myriad of Santa Clarita residents who have been a significant part of my family’s life and represent much joy to my heart, for I was with them for a decade.

And still, once again, I directly know a family who’s child was affected. Yesterday morning, good friend, former parishioner and fellow youth worker received a text from her son, telling his mother that he loves her and does not know what to expect since they were in an active shooter situation, and he heard the gunshots.

Could you imagine receiving such a text from your child?

She was blessed, as her son came home without physical harm. Seven children, however, did not come home. And as my friend said, of the seven children who did not come home, “two are with Jesus.”

I am saddened, sickened and heartbroken about the state of the world in which our children live, as they go to school. In my short ministry, no less than two of my former GOYANs and students have been in a firing line just by being at the wrong place at the wrong time. But really, school should always be the right place at any time. Without question.

My dearly beloved, please, please, pray. Pray for the end of violence. Pray for the calming of anger. Pray for the dawning of peace. Pray for the comfort of souls. Pray for the health of the mind. Pray that guns, or any other weapon, are found in the hands of children who are determined to inflict death upon themselves or others. Pray. Pray. Pray.

As I said the last time this happened to someone I know, this is not a soapbox or a political statement. Please do not loose sight of my message because you may be offended that I am railing against gun violence. But prayers and thoughts must turn into plans and actions. Our children deserve the opportunity to walk through the hallways and courtyards of their schools free of gunfire and bloodshed. Our children deserve so much more.

When will we respond to their plea?

I told my friend that we will pray for her son and his friends at our GOYA Lock-In tomorrow evening. We will chant the Paraklesis to the Theotokos by candlelight. We will secured by the presence of God and be under the protection of the Theotokos. May our children…may everyone’s child, ever find themselves under the canvas of her protection. Always. And everywhere.

Lord Have Mercy. Lord Have Mercy. Lord Have Mercy.