The Catholic community of Michigan State University is mourning the loss of three students after a shooting on campus.

A Mass was held last night at St. John Church and Student Center to pray for the souls of the deceased, where Father Peter Ludwig reminded students that despite tragedy, God still loves them.

“My deepest hope for every single person in this room is not to take away the pain or the suffering — I can’t do that, I can’t make this better. … Please do your heavenly father a big favor today — his heart is grieved — please let him know that you understand that he still loves you.” 

The shooting took place on February 13 when a 43-year-old gunman opened fire on campus, injuring five others before taking his own life. The motive for the attack is still unknown.

Two of the victims had connections to Catholic parishes in the Detroit area. Brian Fraser, 20, graduated from St. Paul on the Lake Catholic School in Grosse Pointe Farms, and Alexandria Verner, 20, belonged to Guardian Angels Parish in Clawson. The third victim, Arielle Anderson, 19, graduated from Grosse Pointe North High School and aspired to become a doctor.

At a prayer vigil, pastor of St. Paul on the Lake Father Jim Bilot reminded those there that Jesus wants them to find peace beyond their feelings.

“The core and depth of our being goes beyond our ability to feel, to think, and experience. That’s where Jesus wants us to be. We can be weary. We can be troubled. We can be angry. We can be despairing. We can be fearful. There are so many layers to what’s going on that there’s not one simple answer to any of the questions we may have.”

At Guardian Angels Parish, Deacon Christopher Stark led a livestreamed rosary and prayed for the victims and their families.

“Today is truly the saddest day I’ve experienced in the state of Michigan. Three young Spartans who lost their lives way too young, senselessly, and we ask the grace and mercy of God to be on their families, and for their souls to find a place of happiness, light, and peace in the presence of God in paradise.”

Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing tweeted that the Catholic community is praying for those affected to rest in peace.

“May the love of Almighty God restore health to the injured; sustain those caring for them; bestow solace on those who mourn and eternal rest to those who were killed. The Catholic community is praying that they rest in peace.”

In describing their response to the tragedy, Father Michael Cassar, parochial vicar of St. John Church and Student Center, said Father Gordon Reigle was with other religious leaders, parents, and students at the campus convention center, offering support until 3:30 a.m.

“Tragedies are real, and you can’t pretend them away. But you also have to see them wrapped around and somehow absorbed into this love of Christ. And you can’t always see that element but it’s there. And so holding these together and mourning with those who are mourning without losing sight of Christ and his love and realizing that he’s with us, walking through it, suffering with his body, the Church, who are mourning as well.”

Pray for all victims and their families! 🙏

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