- Newtown Scholarship Association Announces New Sandy Hook Elementary School Memorial Scholarship and Benefit Concert
An entry from SHU President John J. Petillo’s blog on 1/11/13:
A letter on gun control by SHU alumna Christina Dolzall has been getting play locally. Christina grew up in Newtown and was an intern at Sandy Hook Elementary School with victim Vicki Soto. She has a degree in psychology and an elementary school teacher certificate from Sacred Heart. Her letter is thoughtful and articulate.
December 16, 2012
Today is known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word for rejoice, which is the first word in our second reading today. You notice the colors have changed slightly from violet to rose. The rose colored candle is lit on the advent wreath. Despite the otherwise somber readings of the season of Advent, which in addition to preparing for the coming of the Lord has as a secondary theme the need for repentance, the readings on the third Sunday emphasize the joyous anticipation of the Lord's coming.
As a community and a nation, we should be in joyous anticipation of the Lord’s coming. And yet, tragedy has hit us just a few miles down the road. Certainly, we mourn and grieve when things happen like this in any part of the world, but this weekend we are shaken to our core as many of us know people associated with the town or the school so close to us. A friend of our family is a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary. Luckily, she and her class made it out safely. But, not before seeing that the lives of children and coworkers she knew had been taken
The first question that comes to most people’s mind: why? We as humans want to know what kind of evil or sickness preys upon the innocent. We not only demand justice, but we demand our own sense of understanding. In essence – we want to know what God knows. God, we ultimately ask, how could this have happened?
The only answer I can muster is: God is God, and I am not. We can only see a small part of the picture he is painting.
I had a regular doctor’s appointment yesterday, and it happened to be in Sandy Hook. The terror was still in our faces – TV crews lining the roads of Newtown, trying to get comment on the victims, the shooter, invading the usual life of ours. I later went for a hair cut, and naturally everyone was talking about the events. The main theme – the bubble of the holiday season had a pin poked in it – and we’ve all become deflated. I caught Msgr Bob Weiss, the pastor of St. Rose of Lima in Newtown, on the local and national news a few times. He summed it up well by saying our joy has been stolen.
So how do we, on what is supposed to be the joyous Sunday of advent, be joyous?
One thing most of us have – is our families. I had the same reaction Friday as I had on September 11 – where is everyone and please just come home. My wife is a elementary teacher at Bethel, and her school went into lockdown. But I knew she was safe as police were protecting her school. Still – I kept thinking – just come home. And they did. And while we mourned those who didn't return to their families - we rejoiced that everyone in our family was able to.
How, specifically, do we move on? One of the best ways to move on from thinking of pain and injustice is to reflect joy and generosity to others. Today’s gospel gives us a road map. The crowds have asked John, "What should we do?"
He said to them in reply, "Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise." He tells tax collectors to "Stop collecting more than what is prescribed." He tells soldiers "Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages." We as a society, particularly an American society, always want more. I think today we hear, joy is an inside job. The LORD, your God, is in your midst, our first reading says, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.
We should be glad for the community of Newtown. Glad for the responders, the police, the firemen, the medical staff, the well trained teachers, the community who opened their arms immediately after the tragedy. I’ll end on this – something to hopefully keep giving us hope and joy amidst the tragedy. It’s not from a prophet or apostle, but instead from one who always told us it’s beautiful day in the neighborhood. Mr. Rogers, the late Fred Rogers, once said; "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world."
Below is a message to the SHU community from Lauren Sudbey '13.
Dear Sacred Heart Community,
My name is Lauren Sudbey. I am currently a senior at Sacred Heart, and I am a resident of Sandy Hook, CT. As you know, this horrific tragedy took the lives of many young children and heroic adults, devastating my town.
My community has come up with many ways to help honor those who have lost their lives and to support our survivors. One of these ways is that we have created and are selling livestrong bracelets that are blue and yellow and read "Newtown Angels" on the outside with the Newtown and Sandy Hook zip codes on the inside. The bracelets are $2, and you are more than welcome to buy as many as you would like or just place a donation. The money raised is going directly to the families involved, and if we are able to raise enough money, we are looking to build a carousel with 26 horses each dedicated to a victim.
Anyone who is interested can connect to the web page by copying and pasting this link http://www.giveforward.com/newtownstrongnewtownproud into their web browser. It is important to remember when making a purchase to include your name, address, how many bracelets you would like and that you are from the Sacred Heart community in the message section on the donation page. If anyone has any questions, they are more than welcome to email me directly at Sudbeyl@sacredheart.edu!
I myself and the people of my community could not thank you enough for all of the support we have already seen from many at Sacred Heart University.
With many thanks,