Blue and white pinwheels spun in the flower beds in front of St. Gregory the Great as parishioners and guests gathered at the Virginia Beach parish for an ecumenical prayer service Tuesday night.
Titled “A Time for Healing,” the service was held to honor the memory of the 12 men and women who lost their lives in the May 31 shooting at the Municipal Center, including St. Gregory the Great parishioner Katherine Nixon and St. John the Apostle parishioner Mary Louise Gayle.
“Our Gospel is tough,” Brother Tobias Yott, liturgical minister at St. Gregory the Great, said to those assembled. “It faces any evil. It stands up to any wrong.”
Father Eric Vogt, pastor at St. Gregory the Great, said that the idea to host such a service at the parish came to him as he waited Friday night at Princess Anne Middle School, the holding area where survivors of the shooting were reunited with their families.
“I thought, ‘We need to do something,’” he said. “We need to take a lead on this. To pray for our city, and for the world, too.”
The service featured readings, prayers and meditations from Father Vogt; Brother Tobias; Rev. Robert Hunter, chaplain of the 192nd Wing, USAF; Rev. Joel Palser, chaplain at the Christian Broadcasting Network; Rev. Roger Cheeks, director of seminary and university outreach; International Fellowship of Christians and Jews; and Deacon Darrell Wentworth, who serves at St. Gregory the Great.
“There will always be those who are attracted to the darkness,” Brother Tobias said. “But the darkness will never be able to put out the light.”