A vigil for the victims of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, PA, on Oct. 27, 2018. (Reuters)

By Sister Martha Buser, OSU

As a season of hope and joy approaches, I look to the young. In October 2018, at the time of the mass shooting in one of Pittsburgh’s synagogues, it was the students from a nearby high school who initiated the first prayer response. Over 2,000 gathered in the rain to repeat these words, almost like a mantra: Love is stronger than hate. They continue to hold on to this challenge. I want to follow them.

Not only did the young people respond with hope and forgiveness, so did everyone who spoke to the reporters. They told the reporters how sad they were because of the tragedy. Almost each on interviewed was determined not to let the hate change them.

The shooting occurred at The Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Squirrel Hill is home to both Carnegie Mellon University and Chatham University, and is a very eclectic and diverse neighborhood. It’s Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to be exact—his church was very near the synagogue. The diversity makes everyone welcome and friendly. People smile and greet one another.

The atrocity of that horrific day did not dishearten the people of this neighborhood. Because love is stronger than hate, they say that they will continue to welcome and greet everyone. We pray that we all can learn from their example.

You call us to build up the kingdom.
Where two or three gather in your name, you are there.
You bring compassion, gentleness, patience, love, joy.

Loving God, these are the gifts I seek for all who are companions on this journey in our community.

Be with us, Lord.

Gentle the ache in our hearts.
May the divided hearts find Your peace.

I forgive, Lord.

I trust, Lord.

Wrap us all in the peace of your arms.

Gather us in your name.
Stay with us Lord.

Prayer by Sister Jovita Hatem, OSU