The leader of Canada’s bishops sent a note assuring prayers for the community of La Loche, in northwest Saskatchewan, where a 17-year-old boy is accused of killing four people and wounding seven others in a shooting at two locations. The perpetrator killed a pair of brothers in a home on Friday and then a teacher and assistant in the local school.
The small community has some 2,500 people, predominately Dene Indians. The town is remote and many residents struggle with addictions. Suicide is common.
Here is the letter from the president of the Canadian bishops to the local prelate, Archbishop Murray Chatlain.
The Most Rev. Murray Chatlain
Archbishop of Keewatin-Le Pas
Dear Archbishop Chatlain,
The prayers of all the Bishops of Canada and of Catholics across our country accompany the community of La Loche and you in this moment of tragedy. With you and the faithful of your Archdiocese, we pray for God’s healing — of spiritual and physical wounds, of families and friends torn apart by death and violence, of the hearts of the perpetrator and the victims, of the community as it suffers through this present moment and begins to look for ways forward which can offer new hope.
As you know so well from your own pastoral experience, healing and new vision are only possible when the heart and the community experience mercy and find hope. Filled with faith in God the Father, and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, Christians join with Jesus in sharing hope and mercy. We do this each moment we bring Good News, proclaim release from captivity, offer sight to the blind, and free the oppressed. Yet to do this, we also need to recognize the suffering, the blindness, the forms of imprisonment and oppression that are within us and among us. Together with you, we trust this present tragedy will spur renewed and ongoing determination to bring about much needed changes to the severe rates of unemployment, poverty and suicide which affect so many in the North — a people whom you admire for their generosity and caring.
May La Loche find mercy and hope through the deep faith and love of its people, and so be a sign to communities across our land that new life is possible through the mercy and hope offered us in Christ, and which we in turn are to offer others.
Fraternally in Christ, the face of God’s mercy,
(Most Rev.) Douglas Crosby, OMI Bishop of Hamilton and
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
January 25, 2015