The Catholic University of America

April 17, 2007

Catholic University Mourns Virginia Tech Victims

Father David O'Connell delivers homily in Caldwell Chapel.
A student signs a message for the tribute wall in the Pryzbyla Center to remember the victims at Virginia Tech.
Yesterday afternoon The Catholic University of America community gathered to mourn the victims of the shootings at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

An overflow crowd of more than 300 members of the university community, most of them students, packed CUA's Caldwell Hall Chapel for a memorial service that began at 5 p.m. Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., university president, delivered the homily at the service, which also included Scripture readings and hymns. (To read his homily, click here.)

The 40-minute memorial service was followed by silent prayer throughout the evening, punctuated by a 10 p.m. Rosary that again attracted a standing room only crowd. Students remained to pray in the chapel before the Blessed Sacrament until it closed at midnight.

"This is a tragedy and we really want to be with the people of Virginia Tech in prayer," said senior politics and religion major Joe Branco from Glenn Mills, Pa. Referring to a friend of his enrolled in Virginia Tech's school of engineering, he added, "She's really been in my thoughts and prayers all day."

Students also expressed their condolences and solidarity with the Virginia Tech community through written messages that were posted on a tribute wall established in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center. "Know that in your suffering and hurt, we are united with you in our prayers," read one typical note.

Earlier in the day, Father O'Connell sent two messages. The first was a letter of condolence to Charles Steger, the president of Virginia Tech. "I cannot imagine the horror and heartbreak experienced today on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University as your community confronts the senseless tragedy and loss of so many of its members," wrote Father O'Connell. "In the name of the entire Catholic University community, I extend our prayers and support to you and all those affected by this devastating experience."

The second message by the president was a letter to the Catholic University community, which was transmitted via e-mail to all students, faculty and staff. To read the full text, click here.

Shortly after news of the shootings became public, the university went on a heightened state of alert. University officials reviewed their emergency procedures and Father O'Connell scheduled a summit meeting of top administrators for Thursday to discuss if anything more can be done in the area of emergency preparedness. For more information, see link.

Further updates to this article will be posted as they become available.

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Media contact(s):
· Chris Harrison, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600, harrisoc@cua.edu
· Katie Lee, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600, leect@cua.edu