Catholic students praying for community after NAU shooting tragedy

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Northern Arizona University campus in Flagstaff. (Photo courtesy of NAU)
Northern Arizona University campus in Flagstaff. (Photo courtesy of NAU)

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An ecumenical candlelight vigil is being held at the North Quad of the Flagstaff Campus at 7 p.m. Oct. 9.

[/quote_box_right]Students at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff are in shock after a shooting on the campus left one of their fellow students dead and another three hospitalized.

“We are, of course, shocked and deeply saddened by the circumstances that bring us together this morning,” said NAU President Rita Cheng in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the victims and their families and our entire Lumberjack family.”

Cheng also said in the statement that counseling services are being provided for students, faculty and staff.

For their part, the staff at Holy Trinity Newman Center, which serves the university’s Catholic population, kept the doors open throughout the day to allow students to freely come and go for a moment of prayer.

Holy Trinity Newman Center serves Northern Arizona University’s Catholic community. On Aug. 28, some 400 students will gather for a “Fugitive” event that begins at the center with students running through campus and then running back without getting tagged. (Courtesy of Holy Trinity Newman Center)
Holy Trinity Newman Center serves Northern Arizona University’s Catholic community. On Aug. 28, some 400 students will gather for a “Fugitive” event that begins at the center with students running through campus and then running back without getting tagged. (Courtesy of Holy Trinity Newman Center)

“It’s been a very somber day,” said Chris Giannola, an administrative assistant for the Newman Center. “Some of the victims’ friends are active in the Newman Center.”

Giannola, who is also a fifth-year deacon candidate for the Diocese of Phoenix, said that many students told him that their classes were empty throughout the day.

Retired Fr. Bob Skagen has been present at the Newman Center throughout the day, addressing the tragedy and praying for the victims and the accused during Mass earlier, Giannola said. Fr. Skagen will also be present at the Newman Center throughout the day on Saturday, celebrating an 11:30 a.m. Mass.

“It’s a difficult time. We don’t know what happened that got that kid to that point,” said Juan Acevedo, a junior at NAU and a member of the Newman Center’s Knights of Columbus.

Acevedo said he went into the Newman Center in the morning to pray a Rosary for everybody involved in the tragedy.

“We’re still in shock,” he said. “Everybody’s praying for everyone. It’s important how the Newman Center is open.”

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