One Priest for Comfort After the Incomprehensible

One Priest for Comfort After the Incomprehensible

Quite often when the mainstream media covers religion, it is designed to find flaws in those institutions. As often as not, with the Catholic Church the MSM focuses on sexual misconduct by priests. But in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, there was a story written about one priest, Monsignor Robert Weiss, who is serves St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church. Of the children murdered in the massacre, half of them were Weiss’s parishioners, whom he had baptized.

Weiss first heard something was amiss Friday morning when he received a call to lock down the school at his church. After making sure the school was locked down, Weiss drove with two other priests to Sandy Hook Elementary, the site of the shooting. The officer greeting them simply said, “I’m so glad you’re here.”

Children who had their eyes closed to avoid seeing the horror around them were being herded into lines when Weiss arrived. But some children were missing, either having escaped into the nearby woods, or fled home, or still inside the school.

While parents rushed to the scene to find their children, some of the children broke from the orderly lines to run to their parents. Parents who couldn’t find their children were taken to the firehouse close by. When Weiss entered the firehouse, he saw parents texting frantically.

After one official said,  “If your child’s name was not called, please go into this room”, the parents were asked for photos of their children for identification, then asked further questions for ID of their children: hair color, what clothes they were wearing.

And then it started for Weiss. Parents, racked by guilt, approached him with statements of how they could have been kinder to their children. One mother was grieved because she took her daughter’s DVD player from her. Another blamed herself for allowing her daughter to attend school that day and told Weiss that she wasn’t a fit mother of her other children.

At 3 p.m., Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy entered and announced that 27 people had been murdered, 20 of whom were children.

Weiss said later that the outcry of grief was the most devastating he had ever seen. Some parents insisted or begged they be allowed to enter the school, but because it was a crime scene, they couldn’t see their children.

The night of the massacre, Weiss visited the homes of two victims who had attended his church. At that point, the grief was too raw for anyone to ask the obvious question: how could God let this happen?

But when horrifying tragedy strikes, it is the burden of those who are our religious counselors to somehow, in some way, try to help those who have been torn apart find a glimmer of faith that can make the incomprehensible seem part of an ordered universe. And if they can accomplish that in the face of monumental tragedy, they have fulfilled their mission here on earth.