St. Rose of Lima – Newtown, Connecticut

When I was choosing which stories to tell and parishes to visit, Connecticut was the very first place I locked in on. Early in my reaching-out phase, Monsignor Robert Weiss invited me to come to St. Rose of Lima to learn how the parish helped the largely Catholic community in its recovery from the horrific Sandy Hook shooting. I knew immediately that’s where I would be heading.

But the lead-up to my visit Sunday provided a mixture of both excitement and apprehension. Theirs is a story that needs to be told, an important lesson about the power faith and our Church can provide to aid the healing from unimaginable pain. Whether the support is for an individual dealing with hardship or an entire community reeling, as was the case here, houses of worship are uniquely equipped to handle this vital role.

Yet, as much as I think the rest of the country needs to hear this story, I wasn’t positive the same was true of the people who lived through it. I worried my appearance would be another painful reminder, or worse, that I’d be seen as some kind of opportunist. I wondered if downplaying my presence there wasn’t called for.

I need not have worried. Monsignor introduced me at the end of Mass, and the people I met afterwards were warm and gracious, and genuinely glad I chose St. Rose as my place to worship. It was a parish teeming with vitality and joy, and I consider myself immensely fortunate to have spent my Sunday in the presence of such an inviting community, guided by a truly inspiring man of God.

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