Hundreds of people from the Arapahoe High School community united their prayers, literally, during a service Dec. 18 when they linked handwritten prayer intentions together to form an extensive paper chain.
About 500 youth and adults—roughly a third of them Arapahoe students—attended the 7 p.m. service at St. Thomas More Church in Centennial. During the service, attendees were given a strip of paper in one of the school’s colors, black or gold, and invited to write a prayer on it.
“By the end, we had a black and gold chain with hundreds of links that stretched double the width of the sanctuary,” said Sue Frank, high school youth minister, one of the event organizers. “We wanted to encourage people to come together and continue to be in community, as shown by the prayer chain we formed.
“We’re stronger together and we can do so much more together than we can by ourselves,” she said.The chain was placed in a basket in front of the altar where it will remain throughout the seven weekend Masses at the parish, allowing more people to continue to add prayer links.
Father Doug Grandon, parochial vicar, presided over the service that included reflection following four Scripture readings proclaimed by Arapahoe students. Students also read the prayer intercessions that included: healing for classmate Claire Davis, 17, who was critically injured during the attack and remained in a coma as of Dec. 19, for God’s mercy on gunman Karl Pierson who took his own life, and for all those whose lives are touched by violence.
“Our intention was to focus on hope,” Frank said. “Our God is the light who shines in the darkness; he brings beauty from pain and blessing from suffering.”
Later in the service, Arapahoe students, faculty, staff and parents were invited to the altar for a blessing.
The community was deeply scarred by last week’s tragedy, Frank said of the Dec. 13 shooting.
“I know that some people feel that ‘it’s not that big of a deal’ because the whole thing was over so quickly and there weren’t more lives lost,” she continued. “But these kids were huddling in fear in a building they’ll need to return to on a daily basis. They were preparing themselves for the worst; they didn’t know if they or their friends were going to survive.”
Pierson’s attack on the Littleton high school was estimated to have lasted only 80 seconds, thanks to quick action by the school’s resource officer and a security guard.
Their terror was real, Frank said, and they need the prayers of the greater Catholic community.
“They’ll need those prayers for many months to come,” she added.
Frank encouraged any student who is struggling to reach out to a priest, youth leader, counselor or other caring adult so “they’re not struggling alone.”
There will be another prayer service for those impacted by the Arapahoe shooting this Saturday morning, Dec. 21, at St. Mary Church at 6853 S. Prince St. in Littleton. Parochial vicar Father Juan Espino, D.C.J.M., will preside at an 8:15 a.m. Mass, followed by a prayer service at 9 a.m. All are invited. For more information, call 303-798-8506.