OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Hundreds of people, shell-shocked and in tears from the shooting rampage at Oxford High School in Michigan that left three dead and eight more injured, showed up at three different prayer services Tuesday night, looking for comfort and meaning amid the devastation. 

They spanned the ages — students in Oxford varsity jackets and sweatshirts in blue and gold, the school’s colors; parents with worry etched on their faces; community members who never thought anything like this could happen in their little enclave  in northern Oakland County.

“This is the thing you read about on the news, that happens in other places,” said Kim Kozel, 51, of Lake Orion, one of about 300 people who attended a prayer vigil at Kensington Church in Lake Orion. After spending much of her afternoon worrying about her son (an employee of the school district’s IT department, who moves between schools throughout the day), she learned that he was in lockdown at the middle-school during the shooting.  

Kozel cracked a rattle and said that “I don’t believe I have processed it yet.” “It has been a lot.”

“Just about all of Oxford hurts,” Pastor Jesse Holt told a crowd of more than 200, at LakePoint Community Church in Oxford Township. When the seating was exhausted, many stood in line for the service. Several held onto each other for comfort. After sharing their common flames, they each lit candles. They wept.

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Police say that the attack was perpetrated by a student aged 15, armed only with a semiautomatic gun. It is impossible to predict how parents and students will feel. But later in the service, Holt asked students who were at the school Tuesday to stand.

“Father,”  Holt said, “I pray that you would bless them in what they do. I pray for the next coming days that if there is anxiety, there are nightmares, there are difficulties that come from  it, that you will give them peace as I have prayed.” 

Similar messages were received at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Lake Orion (Michigan). “Our whole community, our whole family of faith has been affected,” said the Rev. John Carlin.  “We’re offering up this Mass for the repose of their souls, for the comfort of those who are wounded and for the family members. 

“This Mass is offered especially for them as a Mass of peace, and asking the Lord to give us his peace.”

Carlin stated that he was informed of the shooting at Oxford High School Tuesday afternoon by his penance priest. “The Lord was calling me, saying I’m really supposed to be with my people right now,” Carlin said, adding that the St. Joseph parish school went into lockdown upon getting word of the shooting at Oxford High School. “Something told me, that as a priest, as a father of a community, I’m supposed to be there for them. I wasn’t even sure what I was supposed to do.”

People listen to lead pastor Craig McGlassion of the Lake Orion campus of Kensington Church talk and give comforting words to the hundreds that showed up during a prayer vigil on November 30, 2021 at the church several hours after an active shooter situation at Oxford High School in Oxford. Police took a suspected shooter into custody and there were multiple victims, the Oakland County Sheriff's office said.

He said he drove to the Meijer store, to which the students and staff from the high school were evacuated, praying along the way. 

“I am asking the Lord. I’m just in prayer with the Lord, asking, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ … I don’t have superpowers. It’s impossible for me to fix all the problems. What kind of peace am I supposed to bring to anybody, let alone to my heart?” Carlin said. 

He said that this was when he realized the right answer to their prayers: comfort them by trusting in God in the most difficult of times. 

“Every time we experience a loss of friends or loved ones or something that we don’t understand, the Lord wants not only to walk with us through that darkness but to let us know that he is there, and he’s not going anywhere and he never will,” Carlin said. 

Source: USAToday.com

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