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Prayer Service for Virginia Tech

Remarks from Creighton University Prayer Service for Virginia Tech Led by University President the Rev. John P. Schlegel, S.J.

Our hearts go out to the students, faculty, staff and families of Virginia Tech who suffered a terrible loss in the wake of Monday’s tragic shootings.

Incidents such as these are as tragic as they are rare on our college campuses. While random gun violence can take place at any time and place, college campuses remain vulnerable in spite of state-of-the-art security because they are free and open places. And we want that freedom to continue. Creighton, like other universities, is using this occasion to revisit our own security and emergency preparedness policies.

President Bush was very right when he noted that “schools should be places of safety and sanctuary and learning. When that setting is violated, the impact is felt in every American classroom and every American community.”

That is why we are here, to show solidarity with the victims and their families, as well as supporting the community of an institution 1,200 miles away. We are drawn to this because we are part of this.

United in disbelief and questioning and even fear, it would be easy to walk away knowing we will have few answers as to the “why” of this tragedy. We ask “why do bad things happen to good people, to innocent bystanders?” The answer remains silent. Columbine, 9/11, Iraq — lives lost, questions asked, but answers are written on the wind.

Rather, what I would ask of the Creighton community is to not plumb the deep philosophical questions surrounding life and death — although that is a very useful thing to do from time to time ... But, I would rather have you look into your own soul, your own heart, and see what divides you, separates you, or alienates you from others on and off this campus.

Look for ways to build bridges, mend relationships, and reach out to others. This university is a place of dialogue and discourse. Here young minds are to be stretched with new ideas. Here fear is to be taken away from things or persons who are different. Here knowledge and skills are attained so you can be agents of change. Here we experience a generosity of service. Here we build and sustain community. Here our souls are taught the ways of love. Here our spirits are allowed to soar.

It is in that sense of university that we gather in solidarity with the victims and survivors of the Virginia Tech tragedy.

In the shadow of Passover and Easter, we celebrate life. We are filled with hope. We look to the future with great expectation. As a people of faith, we know that life is a mix of joy and sorrow, laughter and tears. But we are instructed to choose life, not death.

So again, as a community, I encourage you to leave this place committed to building a strong and life-giving Creighton community, even as we remember in prayers our brothers and sisters in Virginia.

John P. Schlegel, S.J. President

04/17/07