July 06, 2023
University Chaplain Rev. Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P, led prayers Thursday for Maxwell Emerson who was fatally shot outside Father O'Connell Hall the day before.

The Catholic University of America community gathered outside Father O’Connell Hall Thursday, July 6, to pray for the recently slain Maxwell Emerson.

A Kentucky high school teacher, Emerson was in town for a conference. Emerson was not a member of the Catholic University community, but he was remembered mere feet from where he lived his last moments.

Rev. Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P., University chaplain and director of Campus Ministry, led a prayer service for the Kentucky teacher who was shot Wednesday morning on Michigan Ave., and was discovered outside O’Connell Hall. The suspect fled and Emerson was declared dead at a local hospital.

“We certainly gather for the repose of his soul, consolation for his family and friends,” Father Aquinas told the crowd. “We pray for the police as they investigate and continue to piece together the circumstances of this tragedy.”

The chaplain added that the community is praying for peace, reconciliation, contrition, and an end to violence. Throughout the prayer service, Father Aquinas emphasized the need for hope amid senseless acts of violence.

During one prayer, Father Aquinas said, “We share the faith of your son’s disciples in the hope that the children of God bring the light of Christ’s resurrection to this time of pain and testing,” Father Aquinas said. 

The priest blessed and re-dedicated the O’Connell Hall toward the end of the prayer service. He also extended blessings over the crowd gathered.

Following the incident, University President Peter Kilpatrick set a tone of prayer for the campus.

“While we thank God no campus community members were hurt in this incident, we pray for the individual who senselessly lost his life,” Kilpatrick said in a statement. “Every human life is made in the image and likeness of God, and we pray for the end of such violence and to help build up a culture that treasures all life.”