Tucson Bishop Remembers Victim's 1st Communion

Says 9-Year-Old Who Died in Rampage Is Now With Jesus

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TUCSON, Arizona, JAN. 11, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The bishop of Tucson was in the Holy Land on Saturday when the shooting rampage occurred that took the lives of six people — two of whom were members of his flock — and seriously wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and six others.

In a statement from the Holy Land, Bishop Gerald Kicanas remembered in particular the two victims who were members of parishes of the diocese: «As a family of Faith, we unite in prayer for the repose of the souls of our sister and brother in Christ, Christina Green and Federal Judge John Roll, who were among those who died, and for the comfort and consolation of their families.

«Christina, just 9 years old, received her First Communion last year at St. Odilia Parish in Tucson. ‘Let the children come to me,’ Jesus said. Christina is with Him.»

This was part of the response that Bishop Kicanas made to the tragedy, in which suspect Jared Lee Loughner took the lives of six people in an attempted assassination of Giffords.

The bishop added: «Judge Roll was a person of great faith and great integrity. He lived his faith as a devoted parishioner of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish and St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson. For many years, he would begin his day serving the early morning Mass at Sts. Peter and Paul. He proclaimed the Word of God as a lector at Sts. Peter and Paul and St. Thomas the Apostle. He lived his faith as a servant of our nation for the cause of justice.»

Rising to the occasion

As the bishop was returning from the Holy Land on Monday, he lauded the Tucson community for its response to the tragedy.

In a statement, he reflected: «As I would expect, the community has risen to the occasion. Bystanders stepping up to help at the scene, medical staff working feverishly to care for those harmed, our public servants trying to find answers to a horrific act of violence perpetrated against innocent people, everyone praying and offering support and condolences.»

And Bishop Kicanas recounted his experience of living the tragedy with the Mother Church of Christ’s homeland. «Before I left the Holy Land,» he said, «I concelebrated Mass with 10 bishops in a small Catholic church in Jericho. There are only about 50 Catholic families in the village, and they all expressed to me their condolences for what happened in Tucson and promised their prayers, as did each of the bishops from Canada, Albania, France, Germany, England and the Holy Land. Their comfort and heartfelt prayers meant a lot.

«In the Holy Land, violence is feared and expected. Violence, too often, tears apart both the Israeli and the Palestinian people. Each community knows well the result of senseless violence. Their families have mourned the loss of loved ones and cared for those injured. The people in Jericho, knowing well the life in their community and hearing about what happened in Tucson, asked me, ‘Bishop, how can we prevent these acts of violence that destroy the lives of so many?’

«I wish I knew the answer. But, as the world continues to seek an answer to that question, we can, each in our own way, strive to respect others, speak with civility, try to understand one another and try to find healthy ways to resolve our conflicts.»

Bishop Kicanas was in the Middle East because he forms part of the Holy Land Coordination, a group including bishops from Canada, England and Wales, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United States that was set up in Jerusalem in 1998 at the request of the Holy See. It is organized by the bishops’ conference of England and Wales and exists to show the universal Church’s solidarity to the Churches of the Holy Land. The bishops and Church leaders meet annually in Jerusalem and the surrounding region.

Prayer for peace

Meanwhile, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix remembered the tragedy during the prayer with which he convened on Monday Arizona’s 50th Legislative Session.

«Father of mercy,» he prayed, «we commend [all the victims] to your loving hands, asking you to grant eternal life to the deceased, healing and full recovery to the wounded, and comfort and peace to their loved ones. And Blessed Lord, we earnestly pray, may such senseless violence never scar the social fabric of Arizona again.»

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