May it be so.

It turns out the March For Our Lives on March 24th was a world-wide series of marches. A world-wide series of marches that attracted hundreds of thousands of young people determined to put a stop to gun violence. We watched marches all over the world unfold, either as a part of a march ourselves or from the comfort of our living rooms and we were inspired by the youthful energy and determination of its young leaders.

Here outside the nation’s capital we watched as the teenage leaders of the March For Our Lives sent a message to the nation’s leaders – that the next generation of voters are coming, some of them as soon as this Fall! This same message echoed at protests across the nation from New York to Los Angeles, from Atlanta to Minneapolis, from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida to Littleton, Colorado. The message was clear: “Don’t just get out and vote. Get 17 other people and take them with you to vote.” And the message to politicians was equally clear: “We’re coming for you.”

As we know, Valentine’s Day 2018, which also was Ash Wednesday this year, 14 students and three staff members died when a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Emma Gonzales, one of the Parkland students, honored those killed in her high school by reading aloud their names and then standing in silence for six minutes and twenty seconds, the exact amount of time it took for the gunman to end her friends’ lives.

Of course this is not the first time the survivors of a mass shooting, alongside the families of the victims, have fought to change the nation’s gun laws. After 20 first graders and six teachers were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, just days before Christmas 2012, some gun control advocates felt certain that that horror would make change inevitable. Families of victims stormed Capitol Hill urging lawmakers to stiffen gun laws. But even a bill requiring simple universal background checks failed in Congress in early 2013.

The Parkland teenagers insist that this time is different.

May it be so.

May it be so.

Different how? The Parkland students have energized the dispirited gun control movement and given it a human, youthful and hopeful face. Parkland student Delaney Tarr believes change is coming, as she said to hundreds of thousands of marchers on Capitol Hill, “This is more than just one day, one event, and then moving on, this is not a mere publicity stunt, a single day in the span of history, this is a movement … a movement relying on the persistence and the passion of its people.”

I’m an optimist by nature. I want to believe gun control change is possible. So, like the kids, come November, I’ll be voting [again] too. Will you? What are the kids from Parkland Florida promoting? Namely: a ban on semi-automatic weapons; a ban on bump stocks; the creation of a database for gun sales and elimination of background-check loopholes; a repeal of the Dickey Amendment which prevents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting any research that results in a recommendation for more gun restrictions; and raising the purchase age requirement for weapons to 21.

This past Easter morning, when folks all over the country woke up to Easter Bunny baskets full of Easter candy, and little gifts left by loved ones, seventeen families choked back gut wrenching sobs painfully aware that there would be one less basket to fill this year. While our lives and the lives of many others in our country have returned to “life as we knew it,” those seventeen families’ lives will never return to whatever their version of normal used to be.

So we don’t forget, here are the faces of the Parkland shooting:

Scott Beigel – 35

Alyssa Alhadeff – 14

Martin Duque Anguiano – 14

Nicholas Dworet – 17

Aaron Feis – 37

Jaime Guttenberg – 14

Christopher Hixon – 49

Luke Hoyer – 15

Cara Loughran – 14

Gina Montalto – 14

Joaquin Oliver – 17

Alaina Petty -14

Meadow Pollack – 18

Helena Ramsay – 17

Alex Schachter – 14

Carmen Schentrup – 16

Peter Wang – 15

Geography teacher, soccer star, budding comedian, promising swimmer, football coach, dancer, athletic director, bowler, proud academic, future accountant, basketball player, volunteer at her church, mechanic, mathematician, trombone player, smartest kid in the class, ROTC member.  And more.  Child, brother, father, daughter, sister, cousin, son, neighbor, friend.  And so much more.  Child of God.  Child of God.  Child of God.

May it be so … that this time is really different.  Praying.  I know you are too.  Thank you.

Peace friends,

Chuck

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Categories: Current Events, Ministry

7 Comments

  • Sue Kenny says:

    Powerful words. Thank you.

  • Shari says:

    The two-sided sign that I made and took with me bore lyrics from Bob Dylan’s song Blowin’ In The Wind:

    On one side was “How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?” And on the other side was “How many deaths will it take ‘til he knows that too many people have died?”

  • Cassie Rogan says:

    Thanks Father Chuck for keeping this out in open lest we “forget”. You and I know prayers move mountains. I hope and pray that the American people once and for all, see the need of God in their lives, now more than ever. Our churches need to be filled once more with values of God, Family, Church and Community! We need to get back to the basic core values in order to protect our kids from such violence.
    Thanks for listening! Hope you are well!

  • Shelly Greenfield says:

    Amen

  • Barbara says:

    Thank you Chuck and AMEN. IT IS WONDERFUL to have their pictures should I encouter anyone who is NOT on board with this movement to Vote OUT of office those who disagree. Disagree all you want we know we are RIGHT!

  • Therese Chaplin says:

    Amen.

  • Nancy K says:

    Amen.

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