As you may know, there has been a wave of bomb threats (well over 100) in the last couple of months against Jewish community centers and schools in our country. There have also been continuing acts of vandalism and threats against mosques and Muslim centers as well.
We have neighbors who are justifiably frightened, upset, and scared. It is a terrible situation. We, as people of faith, as well as good neighbors, are concerned for our neighbors who feel threatened, specifically the Hillel Center across the street from our gym, the Nueces Street Mosque two blocks from us, and the Chabad Student Center on 21st Street.
We not only want to pray for them and their safety, but to reassure them of our prayerful support. So we are doing a couple of things to put that concern into action. First, I have given to the leaders of the Hillel Center a list of emergency contact numbers here at St. Austin so that, God forbid, in the case of a bomb threat and they have to evacuate the building (as has happened around the country) they can contact us and we will make our facilities available to them for the emergency sheltering of people, especially if it is raining or at night. We are ready to assist them.
Secondly, to let them know of our prayerful concern, we have presented each of the three communities listed above with one of the candles that were blessed at the end of each Mass last weekend. We will have one of the candles here, which we will light, as a reminder to us that we are committed to pray for these neighboring communities of faith, especially for their safety. We hope that they will light the candle they receive as a reminder that we are praying for them and that they will pray for us.
I urge you to pray for the safety of all our neighbors, and for our country. Acts of hatred and violence must not be tolerated.
The following is from the blessing of candles at the end of Mass last weekend:
“God of mercy, hear our prayers and the prayers of all people of goodwill. Unite us all in your love. Protect all people of faith from persecution and physical harm. Bless us and + all who are united in prayer before you, O God.
Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.”