'All Fr. Luke Asks for is Prayer'
Father Luke Suarez (left) was ordained to the priesthood on May 16, 2011 by Bishop William E. Lori at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown, Conn.
As we all continue to grieve for the victims and their families in the shooting rampage last Friday in Newtown, Conn., there are others in need of our prayers: those ministering to a town that will never be the same again.
On a personal note, we heard today from the sister of Fr. Luke Suarez, a priest at Newtown's St. Rose of Lima Parish. Father Luke's sister, Tabitha, sends a plea for prayers for her brother. Even in the aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 26 people dead, including 20 children, she says evil continues to leave its mark in the community and the parish itself.
Still, she says, this "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."
The following is Tabitha's words from Newtown:
All of you, I am sure, have heard so much about the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. You have received emails from me about my younger brother, Fr. 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, Msgr. 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 as it stands 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, as we all are.
Meanwhile, the rectory has received serious threats. For instance, as you may have read, as my brother gave the homily Sunday at the noon Mass, the church had to be evacuated by a SWAT team.
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, 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 Fr. Luke our love and support from afar, and one of my brothers was able to visit with him briefly a couple times. All Fr. Luke 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 Fr. Luke, Msgr. 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, Fr. 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 all loving one another as Christ loved. Thank you for letting me reach out to you now.
With humble appreciation,
On Friday, Dec 28, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception will remember in a special way the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting and their families at the 2 p.m. Mass at the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass.