A healing Mass at The Catholic University of America brought the campus community together to pray for peace July 20 following several recent acts of violence on campus and in the University neighborhood.
The fatal shooting on campus of Kentucky school teacher Maxwell Emerson July 5, a homicide on Monroe Street July 17, and a violent assault of a recent University graduate near the Brookland-CUA metro station July 13 have left community members seeking solutions.
In his homily at the 12:05 p.m. Mass in St. Michael the Archangel Chapel in Maloney Hall, University chaplain Rev. Bernard Knapke, O.P., said only the grace of Jesus brings true healing and peace.
“Jesus speaks to our hearts today (in the Gospel),” Father Knapke said, referencing Matthew 11:28-30. “He tells us, ‘You who labor and are burdened, come to me, and I will give you rest.’”
He acknowledged the added labor that many in campus leadership and public safety positions have felt in the past month.
“We've also felt an extra burden this week, this month of sadness at the tragic loss of human life; the burden of added vigilance for ourselves, for our students, for our children; the burden of discord and maybe most of all, the burden of fear and all that it brings with it,” Father Knapke said.
Following Mass, the congregation prayed the Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus.
“We pray in reparation for the blood shed this month on campus and near campus,” Father Knapke said. “In doing so, we ask that our Lord take from us … those burdens of sadness and discord and fear. We ask for rest, for protection, we ask him for his peace and for his healing.”
The University President’s leadership team held an emergency session July 18 to discuss increased safety and security measures on campus and the University’s Department of Public Safety met with the Metropolitan Police Department July 19 to ask for more resources on campus.
New University implementations will include increased police presence on campus, particularly on the perimeter, additional support from MPD, and engagement with city leadership.
President Dr. Peter Kilpatrick will hold a town hall meeting July 26 at 10 a.m. to discuss safety and security at Catholic University.
“You have my personal commitment that I will pull every lever I can to create a safer place for our students, faculty, staff, and those who visit our campus,” the President said in a statement July 19. “Please join me in continuing to pray for our campus community, for all who have been affected, and for an end to the violence affecting communities across our nation.”