By Melanie Lamarca
Youth Speak News

As a high school student, I’ve always considered school a safe place for me to grow and learn. That’s why school shootings always hit so close to home. Upon hearing about the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, I must express my condolences for the Roseburg community that has lost nine of its members. I am deeply saddened that yet again, lives were lost to gun violence.

But in spite of the sadness that follows the outcome of gun violence, we must ask ourselves how we can be of service to our brothers and sisters who have been directly affected by the losses in Roseburg. God is asking us to stand in solidarity with one another.

As the Portland Archbishop Alexander Sample puts it, “We are one body in Christ, and when even one member suffers, we all suffer with them.” As a community, we hurt together, but we also come out of that hurt together. In times where all seems lost, we must remember that God calls us to help one another through prayer. 

As a Catholic community, we must offer our prayers to the victims and their family and friends. We pray that God may ease their sufferings and grant them peace. At a time when the people of Roseburg are filled with heartache and confusion, our community of faith must pray to give them strength.

By extension of that good will, we must also offer our prayers to the shooter and his family and friends. God calls each and everyone of us to forgive those who trespass against us. In the Catholic faith, forgiving those who have harmed our brothers and sisters is acting in God’s good will. We can only hope that the family of the shooter is coming to understand their son’s choices and are moving forward to promote peace and stricter gun laws.

God calls us to learn from the tragedies that plague our everyday news in the hopes that we can see a better tomorrow. As Catholics, we are also called to be advocates for peace.

As a whole, we reject gun violence. We acknowledge that while having guns does not necessarily mean violence, it creates more opportunities for such tragic events to occur. Protecting human life does not limit itself to conversations about abortion and euthanasia, it also means trying to lessen the number of people who lose their lives to gun violence. As a community, we must move forward with the hopes that advocating for stricter gun laws may reduce the number of mass shootings.

As these mass shootings become more frequent, we are called to take action in some way, shape or form. If that’s advocating for peace in your school or parish community, so be it. In doing so, you are answering God’s call for solidarity. If one of our brothers and sisters is hurt, we all are. Maybe it is in feeling this pain that we can find solutions for creating a safer tomorrow. In a response to the sadness that surrounds the shooting in Roseburg, it is through prayer, forgiveness and advocacy that we can act in God’s will.

(Lamarca, 17, is a Grade 12 student at St. John Paul II Secondary school in Toronto, Ont.)

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