If you ever doubted that there is a battle going on all around us — a true battle — between good and evil, and that that battle engages every single one of us whether we are aware of it or not, the events of the past week really ought to clarify that point for everyone.
In the face of the unspeakable evil of the slaughter of children, good broke through, and the stories are legion — good people of all faiths and of no faith at all have moved with generosity and concern to do whatever small acts of kindness they can, for the people of Newtown and also for the world, in general. The good has broken through the evil, counterbalancing the evil and and good is saying that it will not allow evil to win. We have seen this up-close-and-personally with the tremendous outpouring of toys you folks have generously sent to New Jersey, when all you needed to hear was “there are kids in need.”
The goodness is so heartening that when you read something like this — the harassment of priests who are trying to minister to grieving families — you just have to ask, as we have before, what the hell is wrong with people?
Do you remember this picture, of these priests, Monsignor Robert Weiss and Father Luke Suarez, at the scene of carnage in Newtown?
Well, while I’m sure both priests are seeing some hate it seems the young Father Suarez, who is not two years a priest, is being targeted by creatures who enthralled to the ugly and the dark. Writes his sister, in an outreach. All emphasis mine:
All of you, I am sure, have heard so much about the tragedy in Newtown, CT. Many of you have received emails from me about my younger brother, Father Luke Suarez, who is a priest at St. Rose of Lima parish, a Catholic church just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary. He, and his pastor, Monsignor Weiss, arrived at the school within moments of the shooting, and have been caring for the community ever since. The picture I have included was taken at the school.
Father Luke has an impossible task before him. His diocese is without a bishop right now. . .Monsignor…is personally devastated by the losses. The parish is very large…The rectory has received serious threats, and as my brother gave the homily Sunday at the noon mass, the church had to be evacuated by SWAT teams. After experiencing identity theft and online hacking incidents, he had to erase all of his internet accounts. After a weekend of endless media requests, notifications and vigils with heartbroken families, and little sleep, he now has two wakes and two funerals every day, until the fourth Sunday of Advent. Father Luke has not even been ordained two years.
My large family has been trying to send Father Luke our love and support from afar, and one of my brothers was able to visit with him briefly a couple times. All he asks for is prayer.
I have been wracking my brain, trying to think of a way that our beautiful, loving community could tangibly reach out to Father Luke, Monsignor Weiss, and the St. Rose parish, to support them in this most awful of times. I have sent many prayer requests, and I am asking for more prayers again. But I also want to ask everyone to search their hearts, and if the Holy Spirit moves you, please consider sending one of your family’s Christmas cards to the rectory, with a few words of love and encouragement. Here is his address:
Father Luke Suarez
46 Church Hill Road
Newtown, CT 06470
My brother has said over and over again that without the prayer support he is receiving, he could not keep going. And this week is only the beginning. Everyone there is still in shock. Their peaceful home has been desecrated by violence. They will need to live with this sorrow forever.
But in our weakness is His strength. Grace abounds. Can you help me carry him through this time of trial?
On a hopeful note, Father Luke did say that no media coverage has even touched the deep, beautiful awakening of faith that has occurred there. Their tiny church, where my children have received sacraments and where Luke was ordained, has been full of people in prayer without ceasing since this tragedy happened. Love is stronger than death.
Please feel free to share the address with your family, friends, and community. An outpouring of love will sustain these good priests through their impossible ministry–impossible on their own, but possible with God.
I read stuff like this and I think of Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction telling Tim Roth, “I am the tyranny of evil men, but I’m trying, Ringo, I’m trying real hard to be a shepherd.”
I’m putting cards in the mail to both priests — what a good idea — and also remembering them in my prayers. Will you, too? We forget sometimes that aside from those families directly impacted by the violence, all the people who serve them — ministers, first responders, medical personal, even the funeral support — need prayers, too. And prayer is the most subversive of powers. It knocks the hell out of things!
UPDATE: In comments section, Klaire shares a way to have a mass said for these priests. Also, while making a small donation for altar flowers for this adoration chapel, you can ask for the remembrance of intentions.
Tom Crowe, who was in seminary for a year with Fr. Suarez writes: He is one of the gentlest and most generous souls I’ve known.
Deacon Greg provides a useful prayer for priests.
Melissa Clouthier: What we can and cannot do about Newtown.