Remembering the Dayton Shooting: Dayton Parishes & Sisters of the Precious Blood Honor Victims One Year Later
by Kary Ellen Berger
On the morning of August 4, 2019, people in and around the Dayton area woke up to the horrifying news that a gunman took nine innocent lives and injured dozens of others in the city’s downtown Oregon District. In memory of those victims, the downtown Dayton parishes of Holy Trinity, Emmanuel and St. Joseph united for a memorial Mass on the one-year anniversary of the tragic act.
“In October 2019, with the support of pastor Father Angelo Anthony, C.PP.S, and the Dayton downtown Catholic Pastoral Region 7 (Emmanual, St. Joseph and Holy Trinity), there was a Mass for healing and hope for the deanery at Emmanuel,” said Shaughn Phillips, director of Evangelization and Young Adult Ministry for Pastoral Region 7. “We also provided prayer cards and samples of letters Catholics could send to their elected officials regarding gun-responsibility policies to enable us, as we say at the end of Mass, to, ‘Go and preach the Gospel with y[our] lives.’”
“With the anniversary of the Oregon District shooting, we thought it would be appropriate, again, to come together at Holy Trinity to continue healing and find strength with Christ in the Eucharist to build the Kingdom of God here in Dayton,” Phillips continued.
Following the shooting, Holy Trinity Church’s doors remained opened throughout the day and night for anyone needing to talk, or seek spiritual guidance. The church is located in the Oregon District, only a block away from where the shooting happened.
The downtown Dayton Catholic parishes are served by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. Both the Missionaries and the Sisters of the Precious Blood have been involved with remembering victims of homicides for many years.
The Sisters of the Precious Blood began holding homicide vigils in 1993 and prayed at 131 sites until May 1997. In 2006, the Sisters and the Missionaries of the Precious Blood assembled an ecumenical group that resumed the work of this ministry.
“We pray for all of [the victims], and we pray for their families as well,” said Sister Jeanette Buehler, C.PP.S. “When we come together to remember those people who have been killed, we witness to the preciousness of all life. All of us were created by God, and when Jesus died, he died for all.”
“Victims’ final moments do not define who they were,” said Sister Buehler. “We have found over the years that there are innumerable stories and circumstances surrounding violent death, but there are common denominators: The victims are remembered for their smiles, or the care they showed to family and friends, or their struggles to make changes in their lives. The deceased person portrayed in the news does not tell the whole story of the person, the child of God, who was cherished by family and friends.”
“As we remembered the precious blood of our neighbors that was spilled on the brick street down the block last August, we were also reminded at Mass that we were not alone in our experience,” Phillips said. “There was a tremendous sense of solidarity, peace, and hope that came with such an experience of God in the midst of such heartbreak.”
Phillips added, “Our hope was that anyone who walked through Holy Trinity’s doors encountered the love of the Father and knew they were beloved, especially during this turbulent time in our community. But we also hoped this opportunity to pray together provided continued healing needed from last August and strengthened us to continue the work God has given us.”
This article appeared in the September edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.