Catholic Diocese of Richmond

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Diocesan News on the May 31 Shooting in Virginia Beach

June 6, 2019

The Holy Father has offered his condolences to the community of Virginia Beach. Bishop Knestout thanked Pope Francis for his prayers and sympathies on behalf of the faithful.

Letter From Pope Francis Bishop Knestout’s Response


Updated & For Immediate Release:  June 2, 2019

Bishop Knestout Visits and Celebrates Mass with Two Virginia Beach Parishes Sunday June 2, 2019

“As you mourn the loss of friends, neighbors or family, I mourn with you and want to assure you of the sympathy and solidarity of all the people of the Diocese of Richmond. We join you in prayer and by being present with you to grieve the loss of the 12 souls who died and others injured in Friday’s violent shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. I hope in some small way this prayer and support brings comfort to you and to the Virginia Beach community. This is your home and I know words fall short in easing the pain of this time, but offer them to you in the hope that in being united with you in thought and prayer, we might also help you carry the burden of this loss.

We feel sadness in our hearts, especially for those whom the sting of this loss is so much greater, for those who have lost a loved one. We know there is grief, and possibly also anger at the injustice of this senseless loss of innocent life.

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Ascension which normally is an occasion of joy and thanksgiving. But it’s difficult to celebrate when we know members within our diocese are hurting and in pain following such violent loss.

It is in this time of loss that we turn to our Heavenly Father in prayer. To ease our grief – it is God who provides the strength and peace to sustain us in times of loss and distress. I invite all the faithful of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond to join me in prayer on the Feast of the Ascension for the people of Virginia Beach.

We hold in prayer the many who are hurting as a result of this tragedy. We pray for the families who lost a loved one, for the injured recovering in the hospital, for the medical personnel working to comfort and care for the suffering, for our law enforcement community who so valiantly faced the danger at the Municipal Center. We pray for the co-workers mourning the loss of a friend and most especially for those who died:

• Laquita Brown
• Tara Gallagher
• Mary Louise Gayle
• Alexander Gusev
• Katherine Nixon
• Richard Nettleton
• Christopher Rapp
• Ryan Cox
• Joshua Hardy
• Michelle “Missy” Langer
• Robert “Bobby” Williams
• Herbert “Bert” Snelling

May God grant them eternal rest and may the Virginia Beach community remain steadfast in their support of one another. Be assured of a continued remembrance in our prayers in the days and weeks to come.


For Immediate Release: May 31, 2019

Bishop Knestout issued a statement following multiple deaths from a shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center Complex, Friday, May 31, 2019:

“As we await more information from law enforcement regarding the devastating news late this afternoon confirming 11 individuals have lost their lives in Virginia Beach, my prayers and thoughts are with the people of Virginia Beach and the community of Hampton Roads. Tonight, I will continue to pray for those who lost their lives, those who are injured, the medical personnel and first responders who are assisting the victims, families and all affected. I would ask all the faithful to pray with me during this time.” ~Bishop Barry C. Knestout