Prayer service held in memory of the victims of the Lewiston mass shooting

Through tears and in prayer, people gathered at Holy Family Church in Lewiston on Sunday, October 29, to remember the victims of the Lewiston shootings and to ask God to help heal a community shaken by the tragedy.

“We come here to this mountain so that he might teach us, so that he might comfort us, that he might give us peace,” Father Elaiyaraja Thaniyel, HGN, parochial vicar of Prince of Peace Parish, which includes Holy Family Church.

With the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar, people prayed in silence and together, joined in singing hymns, and listened to readings and a reflection from Father Thaniyel, who reminded those gathered that praying for the dead is an important practice that dates to the earliest days of the Church.

“We pray for the dead because we love them and because love is valuable. The Church was held together by love, the bond uniting the members of the Church. The bond of love implies some form of sharing, some form of communication, and since love never ends but survives even death, then the living may still share in a communion of love with the dead. Praying and doing good works on behalf of the dead is simply the way the Church of the living loves the Church of the faithful departed,” he said.

The service was attended by family members of some of the 18 victims of the shootings as well as those who knew them. Others gathered to show their support and to raise up their prayers for those who died.

“I wanted to honor the parents of Andy Violette who is an employee at the company I am affiliated with. His parents were tragically taken on Wednesday night, and we wanted to show respect to him and to his parents,” said Chris Pierce of Cumberland.

“I didn’t know anyone specifically, but I know a lot of people that know people who have died, and I have tried to support them. That is really why I wanted to be here,” said Janet Viere of Auburn. “As I was sitting and praying, I was thinking, ‘Jesus, give everyone here your love.’”

“We’re all created in the image of God. We’re all part of one body, and when one part of your body is injured or missing or lame, it affects your entire body, so even though I don’t know anybody personally who was affected, they are all part of me. We’re all part of one community. We’re all part of the body of Christ,” said Doris Belanger of Lewiston.

During the prayer service, Belanger read the names of the 18 people who were killed. After each name was read, a bell sounded. The photos of the deceased were also placed at the foot of the altar with candles alongside them.

As devastating as the shootings have been to so many, those who gathered for the prayer service said they are confident they will get through it because of their faith.

“It is the love of Jesus. I just know that Jesus is the one the carries us through,” said Viere.

“We have to remember that God is with us no matter what happens,” said Theresa Page of Durham. “He is not going to abandon us.”

Photos with candles
Women huggig
Father Thaniyel
Father Thaniyel
Father Patrick Finn delivers the Gospel reading.
Doris Belanger reads the names of the deceased