Our friend and Catholic Pinterest guru Allison Girone shared on her blog yesterday about a way that all of us can help to support those suffering in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, including the priests who are ministering to the devastated families. Allison shared the following letter, from the sister of Father Luke Suarez at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown, CT:
All of you, I am sure, have heard so much about the tragedy in Newtown, CT. Many of you have received emails from me about my younger brother, Father Luke Suarez, who is a priest at St. Rose of Lima parish, a Catholic church just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary. He, and his pastor, Monsignor Weiss, arrived at the school within moments of the shooting, and have been caring for the community ever since.
Father Luke has an impossible task before him. His diocese is without a bishop right now, and there is very little leadership and assistance from above. Monsignor is older, went through a serious surgery recently, and is personally devastated by the losses. The parish is very large, and parishioners tend to be wealthy and somewhat ill-catechized. The rectory has received serious threats, and as my brother gave the homily Sunday at the noon mass, the church had to be evacuated by SWAT teams. After experiencing identity theft and online hacking incidents, he had to erase all of his internet accounts. After a weekend of endless media requests, notifications and vigils with heartbroken families, and little sleep, he now has two wakes and two funerals every day, until the fourth Sunday of Advent. Father Luke has not even been ordained two years.
My large family has been trying to send Father Luke our love and support from afar, and one of my brothers was able to visit with him briefly a couple times. All he asks for is prayer.
I have been wracking my brain, trying to think of a way that our beautiful, loving community could tangibly reach out to Father Luke, Monsignor Weiss, and the St. Rose parish, to support them in this most awful of times. I have sent many prayer requests, and I am asking for more prayers again. But I also want to ask everyone to search their hearts, and if the Holy Spirit moves you, please consider sending one of your family’s Christmas cards to the rectory, with a few words of love and encouragement.
Here is his address:
Father Luke Suarez
46 Church Hill Road
Newtown, CT 06470
My brother has said over and over again that without the prayer support he is receiving, he could not keep going. And this week is only the beginning. Everyone there is still in shock. Their peaceful home has been desecrated by violence. They will need to live with this sorrow forever.
But in our weakness is His strength. Grace abounds. Can you help me carry him through this time of trial?
On a hopeful note, Father Luke did say that no media coverage has even touched the deep, beautiful awakening of faith that has occurred there. Their tiny church, where my children have received sacraments and where Luke was ordained, has been full of people in prayer without ceasing since this tragedy happened. Love is stronger than death.
Please feel free to share the address with your family, friends, and community. An outpouring of love will sustain these good priests through their impossible ministry–impossible on their own, but possible with God.
I am so grateful to live in this community. We are all so blessed with one another. Every day, I see you all loving one another as Christ loved. Thank you for letting me reach out to you now.
With humble appreciation
I do hope each of you reading this will take a moment today to sit with your children and write a Christmas card to these wonderful priests. In addition, the Postal Service has created a special address for you to send letters of condolence:
Messages of Condolence for Newtown
PO Box 3700
Newtown CT 06470
We continue to pray for the repose of the souls of those lost last week, and for the families and loved ones who grieve their passing.