Holy Family holds prayer vigil for students at South Pasadena HS

Participants pray at a vigil Aug. 20 at South Pasadena High School.

When a pair of students at South Pasadena High School were arrested for allegedly plotting a mass shooting, the local faith communities responded by holding a prayer vigil to pray for all affected — students, faculty, staff, families and, especially, the two young suspects and their families.

The Aug. 20 vigil was put together very quickly, said Cambria Tortorelli, parish life director at Holy Family Church. “We wanted to do something before the start of school and we worked with other Christian churches in the area to make this happen,” she explained about the evening ceremony that was themed, “Together We Stand.”

Prayer participates gathered at either Holy Family or St. James Episcopal Church (both very close to South Pasadena High), and from there marched with candles and met up at the footsteps of the main school entrance. About 150 people came to the vigil which was also attended by the high school principal Janet Anderson.

“It was a very simple vigil with several readings,” said Tortorelli. Students (one a confirmation student at Holy Family) served as lectors.  Later Holy Family cantor Andrew Reed sang Psalm 23 in Hebrew. Everyone joined in the final song, “Amazing Grace.”

“We thought it would be a good way to start off the school year especially after the shaking start a few days earlier,” said Tortorelli. “It was very healing for us all.”


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Father Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

Have you ever noted how we spontaneously react to a perceived threat? Faced with a threat, our primal instincts tend to take over and we instantly freeze over and begin to shut all the doors opening to warmth, gentleness and empathy inside us.

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