By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published June 23, 2016
ATLANTA—The June 15 Vigil for Peace at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Atlanta opened with a procession of the paschal candle, symbolizing Christ’s light in the darkness.
The bilingual vigil, attended by more than 100 people, was one of several prayer services or Masses in the Archdiocese of Atlanta for the victims of a mass shooting June 12 at an Orlando, Florida, gay nightclub. Fifty people died, including the shooter, and 53 were injured.
Msgr. Albert Jowdy, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, organized the vigil based on a collection of readings from St. Pope John Paul’s 1979 visit to Ireland, Martin Luther King Jr., Thomas Merton’s “Faith and Violence,” and Psalms.
The pastor added a reading from Pope Francis. The Holy Father offered the words on the feast of the Ascension to console the suffering at a vigil “to dry the tears.”
“We processed in the beginning with the paschal candle,” said Msgr. Jowdy.
At the end of the vigil, all came forward with individual tapers while singing the Canticle of Simeon in Latin, meaning “Lord, now you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word.”
“We all lit our candles,” said Msgr. Jowdy. “It was a lovely way to end.”
Msgr. Jowdy remarked that several parishioners expressed gratitude that prayers of the faithful at Sunday Masses included a reference to the suffering of the LGBT community.
“Archbishop Gregory sent around some intercessions to the parishes,” said the pastor.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory issued a statement in response to the tragedy June 13 on Facebook.
“Atlanta’s hearts and prayers are with the people of Orlando and all the families of those who lost their lives so tragically this week,” he wrote.
During a June 17 Mass at Transfiguration Church, in Marietta, parishioners prayed for peace worldwide and for the victims of the tragedy. Flower planters held candles, one for each victim, and were placed on the steps leading to the altar.
Other parishes holding vigils or Masses in the days following the shooting included St. Philip Benizi Church, in Jonesboro, Blessed Sacrament Church, in Atlanta, St. Matthew Church, in Tyrone, St. Ann Church, in Marietta, and St. James the Apostle Church, in McDonough.
Our Lady of the Assumption Church, in Atlanta, scheduled a Day of Prayer for Peace June 22 starting with a morning Communion service in the chapel, followed by adoration and noon prayer, concluding with evening prayer and a rosary for peace.