Bishop Deeley shares message from Pope Francis during 'One Lewiston' community vigil

During the ‘One Lewiston’ community vigil held on Sunday, October 29, to honor the victims of Wednesday’s deadly Mass shooting, Bishop Robert Deeley shared a letter he received from Pope Francis expressing his grief and sadness upon learning of the attack.

The letter, sent to the bishop through Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, reads:

His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the terrible loss of life resulting from the mass shooting in Lewiston, and he expresses his spiritual closeness to all those suffering from this unspeakable tragedy, especially the families who lost loved ones. His Holiness commends the souls of the dead to the loving mercy of Almighty God, and he prays for the recovery of the wounded and the medical personnel caring for them. He likewise commends the noble efforts of first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to protect the community. With firm trust that aided by God’s grace we can overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21), the Holy Father invokes upon the people of Lewiston and indeed the entire country Almighty God’s blessings of strength and peace.

The vigil was held at the Basilica of Ss. Peter & Paul in Lewiston, which was filled to capacity, with hundreds more gathered outside.

During his brief remarks to those gathered, the bishop said the beauty of the basilica reflects the deep spirit of the community. He noted that the church was completed despite obstacles such as a pandemic and the Great Depression.

“This is a community capable of great things. In order to make that happen, it has to see itself as a community, a people working together to accomplish the desired goal. In this case, the goal is healing, and the way to that goal is listening and working together. This evening, then, we listen, and we do it together in this beautiful place which shows us what resolution and commitment can accomplish,” the bishop said.

During the vigil, the names of each of the deceased were read aloud, followed by the sounding of a bell and a moment of silence.

The ecumenical gathering featured speakers from several Christian congregations, as well as a rabbi and an imam. In addition, Kevin Bohlin, a leader in Maine’s deaf community, addressed the crowd through American Sign Language, with an interpreter delivering his message. With four members of the deaf community having been killed at the shootings at the Just-in-Time Recreation bowling alley, Bohlin said the tragedy “hit so close to our home and the heart of our community.” He invited those present to lift their hands to form the “I love you” sign in American Sign Language, which most did.

Introducing the speakers during the evening was Tom Caron, NESN host and Lewiston native. Caron said the community’s strength was being put to the test but that “we can never allow Lewiston to be remembered for violence. This city instead will be known for its strength and for the love it has shown one another.”

Bishop Robert Deeley
Woman praying
Man consoling a woman
Tom Caron
Kevin Bohlin
Love sign
Crowd makes love sign
Rabbi and his wife
Tribute to victims
Tribute to victims
Tribute to victims
Crowd outside
Crowd outside