Pastoral letter from Bishop O'Neill regarding Aurora shootings

Posted Jul 23, 2012

[Diocese of Colorado] The following is a pastoral letter by Diocese of Colorado ( Bishop Robert O’Neill that was to be read in congregations across Colorado on Sunday, July 22.

“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.”

—Colossians 3:14-15

Dear Friends,

The news is less than forty-eight hours old, but all of us are still taking in the horror of yesterday’s shootings in Aurora even as this tragic story continues to unfold.

Clearly we are all processing the news in various ways depending on our proximity to people directly affected by these events and in light of our own personal histories. Clearly these events raise a variety of troubling issues that continue to haunt our collective lives, and certainly these events provoke in us a variety of responses. What we have in common, however, is this — an acute sense of loss, that heartbreak we all experience when we see the beauty of our collective humanity diminished yet again so violently and so senselessly.

I want you to know that your sisters and brothers in Aurora and the surrounding area are exercising wonderful pastoral care and outreach to their communities. They are supporting individuals and families that have been directly affected by the shootings. They are spending time with youth and young adults within and beyond the scope of their own congregations. They are making contact with teachers and parents, opening the doors of their churches, having one on one conversation with folks in need, connecting with city and government officials, and gathering folks in prayer and vigil — including, in particular, a prayer vigil to be held this Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m. at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Aurora.

What is needed most I believe at this point, is our collective prayer, and I write specifically today to extend that invitation to you, the people of The Diocese of Colorado.

It goes without saying that those who are wounded, those who have died, the families of victims, emergency responders, medical and law enforcement personnel, city and government officials, pastoral care providers, and so on, are in need of our prayer. But I would add, however, that a call to prayer is far more than a polite and consoling gesture.

The greatest gift we have to offer one another is indeed our collective prayer — not merely kind wishes, not simply good intentions, but deep prayer—the ability to hold, tangibly and intentionally, others in that abundant love that flows freely and gracefully within us and among us. This has substance. This has weight and heft. This, and this alone, is the source of deep healing, lasting transformation, and enduring peace.

This is our inheritance and our gift — living water for ourselves and for a world that thirsts for life.

Even as I extend this invitation to you, I am mindful of all the losses that have affected many of our communities in past months, particularly those who have suffered loss due to the recent wildfires. All the more reason to renew our collective commitment to the gift and practice of prayer.

So please join with me in making this your intentional work today and in the days ahead, and please invite others to join you in doing the same. Remember always that in doing so, you are giving our world the gift of life.

Deep peace and many blessings be with you.


Bishop O’Neill


Comments (2)

  1. The Rev. Bindy Snyder says:

    That must have been a most difficult letter to write. Thank you and God bless.

  2. Marilyn D. Smetana says:

    Yes, we have all been affected by this horror and monstrous, senseless crime. I agree we must all pray for all the victims and families and that includes the Holmes family and in particular, James. Something went terribly wrong in this mind and the twist toward devastation and destruction somehow happened to him, ’cause no one, in their right mind could commit such horror. If he was affected by drugs or his own body chemistry, we don’t know and maybe we’ll never know for sure. As a parent I also feel the devastation his parents and (?) family must be experiencing. God have mercy on all the victims.

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