WASHINGTON (CNS) — Members of Congress stood on the steps of the Capitol June 13 with members of the gay and Muslim communities to pay tribute to the victims of the mass shooting in the Orlando, Florida, which left 50 dead (including the gunman), 53 injured and a world at a loss for words.
Jesuit Father Patrick Conroy, the 60th chaplain of the House of Representatives, led the vigil with a prayer calling for peace and an end to “violence against populations of people who are identifiable for who they are, whom they love, what they believe or what race they belong to.”
He prayed for God’s blessing during this time of deep sorrow, and asked that he “bless those who mourn the loss of their loved ones … and bless our nation, which is once again injured because of such great violence in one of our communities.”
Finally, he called on God to give us the grace to “build a world where no person needs to fear violence” and asked that he “give us peace now and forever.”
Following the prayer, Father Conroy asked for a moment of silence.
Father Conroy was sworn into the House chaplaincy May 25, 2011. He was the first Jesuit priest and the second Catholic priest to fill the role.
In keeping with the tradition established at the Second Continental Congress in 1789, Father Conroy opens every congressional session with a prayer. Some of his other duties include providing spiritual counsel to the members of Congress, congressional staff and their family members, hosting guest chaplains, and presiding over memorial services, funerals, and weddings of members of the congressional community.
Born in Everett, Washington, in 1950, he entered the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus in 1973, and was ordained a priest 10 years later. Before he was nominated to be chaplain of the House of Representatives in 2011, Father Conroy served as chaplain at Georgetown University and Seattle University.
Here is a transcript of the prayer that Father Conroy delivered on the steps of the Capitol:
“We gather this day with the Muslim Staff Association of the House of Representatives and the LGBT Staff Association. We ask your blessing upon our nation at a time like this, when once again we are witness to tremendous violence done against populations of people who are identifiable for who they are, whom they love, or what they believe, or what race they belong to.
“We speak with one prophetic voice as a community in this Capitol against the use of violence presumably in your name. In your name, we condemn all violence against innocent people. We pray for those who lost their lives. Receive them into the palm of your hand. Bless those who mourn the loss of their loved ones. And bless our nation, which is once again injured because of such great violence in one of our communities.
“May all of us — all Americans — who gather on these stairs and who are represented by people who gather on these stairs: Help us as Americans to build a nation, to build communities, to build a world where no person needs to fear violence because of whom they are, whom they love, how they relate to you, oh Lord, our God. Give us peace now and forever. Amen.”