Saturday, April 20, 2013

Boston Bombing and the Oblates of the Virgin Mary

Ven. Lanteri (Founder of the OMV)
Image taken by Fr. John Wykes, OMV on the morning of Thursday, April 18.

From The Oblates of the Virgin Mary USA Province Website 

Bostonians are breathing easier now that a week of terror has concluded. It began with deadly terrorist bombs at the Boston Marathon, continued with a car chase punctuated by gunfire and explosives, intensified with an unprecedented lockdown of the entire city of Boston and its environs, and concluded with another shootout, more explosions (controlled), and the live capture of the remaining suspect. The Oblates of the Virgin Mary went through it all with the people of Boston and did their best to offer prayers, spiritual support, emotional support, and charity for those residents and visitors traumatized by the week’s startling events. What might be called the most unforgettable week in modern Boston history is the focus for this week’s “Around the Province.”

The explosions were heard at St. Clement Shrine on Boylston, and at least one OMV priest attempted to rush to the scene in hopes of anointing the wounded. Though he was turned away by police, he continued, along with other Oblates, to minister to those wandering outside, dazed and often confused by the perplexing situation.

Special Holy Hours were quickly organized at both Saint Francis Chapel in Boston’s Prudential Center and St. Clement Shrine. Runners from the Boston Marathon came to the Chapel, often in tears. When “Let There Be Peace On Earth” was chosen as the Exposition Hymn, there was not a dry eye to be found.

The Holy Hours were attended by a very moderate number of people — part of the reason being that St. Clement Shrine is located just three or four blocks from the crime scene, and Saint Francis Chapel is so close to the crime scene (just one block away) that the immediate area was barricaded by the military. Those wishing to walk the short distance from St. Clement’s to Saint Francis Chapel had to stop at military checkpoints and produce two pieces of identification to proceed. Needless to say, a number of the military personnel got used to seeing many Oblate faces cross their path.

A number of news organizations wished to speak with the Oblates who were so very close to the scene. The Catholic News Agency published the following article which features extensive interviews with the Oblates of the Virgin Mary:

The National Catholic Register also did an extensive article on the bombings and the Oblates attempt to minister to runners, visitors, and first responders:

Radio interviews were also done, including one for Ave Maria Radio.

During the dramatic Boston lockdown, Oblates of the Virgin Mary did their very best to reach out to people in need. An early morning Mass was celebrated at Saint Francis Chapel by Fr. Tom Carzon, OMV. He had arrived at the Chapel before the lockdown was announced. After the lockdown was announced he was told by authorities not to leave the Chapel. So Fr. Tom stayed on, much to the relief of convention-goers at the nearby Hynes Convention Center who needed both spiritual and emotional support.

The Oblates of the Virgin Mary offer their prayers and condolences for all those killed and injured in the Boston Marathon Bombing. While we are grateful that no OMV priests, brothers, or seminarians were affected, and while we are relieved that the bombers are no longer walking the streets, our hearts are heavy as we tearfully lift our voices in prayer to our Father in heaven. Please join us as we pray for the victims, the relief workers, the hard-working law enforcement officials, and for the conversion of those responsible for this deed. And let us pray that we may have peace on this earth — and that this peace begin within our own hearts. “Let there be peace on earth…and let it begin with me.”

From Catholic News Agency and EWTN News:  

Boston, Mass., Apr 16, 2013 / 06:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).-

A priest who offered consolation to passers-by after the explosion at the Boston Marathon said that the event left him with the impression that evil can only be properly understood in the light of Christ’s passion and resurrection.

“So many people are looking at what happened, trying to make sense of it,” Father Tom Carzon of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary told CNA on April 16. “We can figure out where it was made and how it was made and who did it, but even with all that information it never makes sense.”

However, after spending the afternoon consoling those affected by the attack, he remarked: “the Cross and Resurrection, this is the story that does make sense.”

On the afternoon of April 15, two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 170 others. The FBI is currently investigating the explosions to find the motives and perpetrators.

Shortly after he heard the two explosions and saw police and emergency vehicles pass by, Fr. Carzon walked the few blocks from St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine, where his order has offered perpetual adoration since 1935, to the finish line of the Boston Marathon to see if he could be of any help.

Police had already established a perimeter and were sending people away “stunned and confused,” the priest said.

He returned to the shrine where he and a handful of other priests set up a table on the sidewalk and offered water, food and an opportunity to talk for anyone who walked by.

Many of those who came by were “disoriented, confused or lost,” Fr. Carzon said, “so we just greeted people that came by, helping them or giving out some directions.”

“Some people really needed to unload their story and this was a time and a place where they could do that,” he continued. “That’s really mostly what we offered, the opportunity for people to tell their story.”

As Fr. Carzon recalled the day, he said he was reminded of the story of Christ meeting some disciples walking on the road to Emmaus after the Crucifixion.

“They were walking away and they were traumatized and saddened and discouraged and then the stranger was walking with them asking them, ‘What are you talking about?’”

The priest said that in this account, Jesus is prompting the men to share their story and “pour out their sadness,” even though he already knows the details.

“That image really is what stays with me,” Fr. Carzon said, “the experience yesterday of Jesus walking with us in our pain, in our sadness, kind of drawing out stories from us.”

As Boston begins to recover from the bombing, Fr. Carzon observed, “there is a whole city full of people who have something they need to tell; maybe they don’t even know they need to tell it.”

He added that once the victims had shared their pain, he would ask them if they would like to pray or if they even prayed at all.

“There were a couple people who just prayed there on the street,” he said. “How often do you stand and hold someone’s hand and pray on the sidewalk?”

Even though he shared just a few moments with each person, he said it was necessary “to step out” and “be present outside the doors of the church” and “on the street” to help others.

From there, Fr. Carzon said he hoped he and the other priests could perhaps “invite some people even closer to Jesus” in the Eucharist, recognizing him as “the source of real healing.”

From the National Catholic Register 

BOSTON — On a sunny spring day, when friends and family should have been celebrating Patriots Day by watching friends and loved ones complete the annual Boston Marathon, instead, they were all thrown into a war zone.

At approximately 2:50pm local time, two bombs exploded less than 20 seconds apart near the finish line on Boylston Street. Spectators and participants of the 117th marathon alike were caught in the confusion.

At last report, the explosions killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and sent scores of people to city hospitals with shrapnel wounds that necessitated the amputation of limbs.

“It was a large and disturbing scene,” said Boston District Attorney Dan Conley at a news conference Monday night.

Soon after the explosions were announced, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, was returning from a trip to the Holy Land. He urged people to turn to prayer.

“In the midst of the darkness of this tragedy, we turn to the light of Jesus Christ, the light that was evident in the lives of people who immediately turned to help those in need today. We stand in solidarity with our ecumenical and interfaith colleagues in the commitment to witness the greater power of good in our society and to work together for healing,” said Cardinal O’Malley in a statement.

Indeed, local Catholics turned to prayer and looked to offer solace to those shell-shocked by the incident.

Praying the Rosary

Tim McGuirk, 19, of Brighton, Mass., was part of a street team attempting to give away posters for a local radio station during the marathon. He estimated that he was 200 yards away from the blasts. Initially, McGuirk thought it was a musket shot by a costumed Revolutionary War re-enactor he had seen earlier at a Boston Red Sox game.

But when he heard the second blast and saw fire and smoke, he realized something was amiss. At first, the word making its way down the street suggested it was a natural-gas explosion, then an explosion at an underground subway station and then a bomb set off at the station.

McGuirk said he felt movement on the ground where he was standing. He said he had a moment of anxiety thinking about all the people near the finish line, including guests of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy. In fact, the 26th and final mile marker of the marathon course was dedicated to the 26 people who died last December at the hands of Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook School.

“There was just a lot going through my mind, and I was really overwhelmed,” said McGuirk, who said that, although he didn’t see any of the physical injuries, “I saw a lot of the not-so-visible injuries; I saw a lot of emotional trauma.”

Right after the blast, the Boston University student called his mother to tell her that he was all right; but, later, he was unable to return text messages from friends, as cellphone service was suspended to prevent possible explosive devices from being detonated.

McGuirk and his colleagues walked away from the scene outside an arena at BU, where they were picked up by their employer. On the way there, McGuirk pulled out his rosary to pray for the victims and was joined by a co-worker who thought she might not know the prayers, but wanted to join anyway.

He said he was able to “pray for those people in a very particular way, that God might offer them some kind of comfort, whether they recognize it is his comfort or not — just to be there for those people. I did recognize the hurt in them,” he told the Register.

He later attended a Mass at the Boston University Catholic Center with about 30 others.

Doctor and Priest Respond

Dr. Tommy Heyne, 29, is a resident at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in internal medicine and pediatrics. During the marathon, he was working at a clinic in Revere, a working-class town north of Boston, when he heard about the bombs. Through a series of hospital messaging, he reported to MGH to see if he could help.

He said there was much security outside the hospital, including “guys with bullet-proof vests and machine guns.”

He described a subdued tone at the hospital with the tragedy, but said that things were running very well and efficiently.

It turns out that the hospital didn’t need his help this time.

But the unfolding of events gave Heyne some time to reflect on why “young, healthy, innocent victims are left limbless, are left incapacitated.”

“I kind of put my hand in Mary’s when she looked up at Jesus, when he says: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" he said. “We’re in the hands of a loving God.”

Father John Wykes of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, who operate St. Francis Chapel in the Prudential Center on Boylston Street, heard sirens going to the scene, though he did not hear the blast. St. Clement’s Eucharistic Shrine is a church operated by the Oblates and is fairly close to the marathon route toward the finish line.

When he heard the sirens, Father Wykes grabbed his sacramental oils and was prepared to offer the anointing of the sick and possibly the last rites.

“My intention was to get as close as possible to the scene,” said the Detroit native.

However, police turned him and others away. Instead, Father Wykes and other priests offered logistical help to spectators disorientated by the incident. Later, they also invited a visiting firefighter to dinner; he was one part of the large crew of first responders and needed a place to talk. He had seen a lot of blood and severed, shattered limbs from victims.

“We sat down with him at table and broke bread with him and talked about the day,” said Father Wykes, who added that he and his fellow Oblates were glad to give this service. Father Wykes plans to offer a special Mass today geared for times of “war and civil disturbances.”

“So I think our comfort in these days is the cross of Christ, which is a cross that Our Lord embraces with love,” said Father Wykes, adding that his love is for “each and every one of us."

Power of the Resurrection 

Mother Olga Yaqob of the Sacred Heart is originally from Iraq and has experienced living through four wars. She is the foundress of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth, which were established in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2011. As a teenager, she attended to dismembered bodies from the Iraq and Iran War and tried to secure their identification.

Though she was not near the bomb scene on Monday, her community was holding vigil for the victims and their families that evening.

“We really need a lot of grace to be able to overcome the darkness of hatred,” said Mother Olga. “We just celebrated the power of the Resurrection. We know that there is no sin too big for the cross — we’ve been redeemed by his blood; we’ve been covered by his mercy, and we have to remember that we have to turn to the power of Resurrection."

She added, “[The only way] we can overcome such evil, such darkness, is by turning to the light of the Resurrection.”

Read more:

The Resurrection happens every day!

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