April 23, 2007
Reported by: Britney Glaser
As we turn to religion and prayer services here locally this week with the installation of the new bishop, it also comes at a time as across the country, the nation continues to deal with the tragedy at Virginia Tech.
When we look back to the tragic events at Columbine High School and on September 11th, we can see how many political leaders and communities came together under the common connection of prayer to cope with situations that could not be understood. The massacre at Virginia Tech was no different, and even here in Southwest Louisiana, many students turned to prayer and saw the typically hot topic of allowing openly led prayer on school grounds seem to die down as a nation mourned together.
When students at Virginia Tech set an area aside on the school's campus for people to write their thoughts on poster boards, there were statements like, "Always a Hokie, prayers for all," "God bless Virginia Tech," and "God bless. You will never be forgotten, go Hokies." There were also songs that could be heard on the campus by students like, "Blessed be the Name of the Lord." These words and songs came from Virginia Tech students dealing with last week's tragic events by turning to God.
Even here in Southwest Louisiana, students found that prayer could be their connection to hurting students - hundreds of miles away. "One morning we had a moment of silence," says Kelsey Gober, a student at Sam Houston High School, "in remembrance of the victims and their families and a prayer for their friends, just to let them know that people are praying for them."
While openly led prayer on school grounds has been an ongoing issue at parish school board meetings - this past week, opposition was not heard. Philip Menou, a student at Sam Houston High School, says, "I've never heard anybody tell a person they couldn't pray on campus."
Billie Jean Bauer, founder of Partners in Prayer for Schools says this is a natural reaction in times of tragedy. "We return to our roots," says Bauer, "which I believe is the faith of our fathers and our nation...our nation was built on prayer and that those boundaries just don't seem to be important or those legal restrictions."
Some of the students at Sam Houston High School say they have seen prayer become a person's last hope. "In time of hustle or need or tragedy," says Sam Houston student Emily LaFleur, "we all fall back on God. God's the one we can fall back on, prayer is always our last resort when it should be something that's quite constant."
Father Alan Trouille with the McNeese Catholic Student Center has also seen McNeese students over the past week turn to prayer in connection to Virginia Tech. "It's probably the one thing that unites us unanimously. No one's gonna agree on the outcome - the why - but, unanimously we all gather in prayer."