Faithful gather in Mass for Orlando victims

Published 6:38 pm Monday, June 13, 2016

By Lorenzo Salinas


A strong sense of community filled the high-vaulted ceiling at St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica in Downtown Beaumont on Monday as dozens of Southeast Texas residents filled the pews in honor of those lives lost in the Orlando shooting on June 12th.

Bishop Curtis Guillory hosted a Mass at 12:10 p.m. in Beaumont to pray for the victims of the Orlando shooting and for the family and friends affected. But the Bishop, 72, also had another message for all those in attendance: “We have a common humanity.”

Bishop Guillory emphasized the solidarity of the attendees with those affected by recent tragedy, reminding everyone that “We come together as people of faith” in spite of any superficial difference between race, culture, or politics.

“I was angry,” spoke the Bishop. “How many times does this have to happen?” However, Guillory was also quick to point out that, while it was normal to be angry, one should not act out of anger; and he encouraged others to not pass judgment on any group of people, especially the stricken LGBT community or those of the Muslim faith. He explained that that notion is reserved for a higher authority, citing biblical passages that showcased human compassion and a respect for God.

Indeed, in conversation, Bishop Guillory stressed the idea that we should be “guided by values bigger than ourselves,” whether those values come from the United States Constitution or another more ethereal source.

That spirit of idealism and empathy was echoed in scriptural readings by the faithful, as well as by Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames who had attended the service and shared encouraging words with the people in the cathedral to “pull together to make our lives better.”

Elsewhere, other members of the community shared their condolences. “Certainly it’s a tragedy,” spoke John Meyer, a concerned citizen outside of the Port Arthur Library. “I hope that it’s not repeated anytime soon.”

Another resident expressed it in more immediate terms. “That was messed up,” Anthony Davis, a Port Arthur citizen, said. “Terrorist attacks get worse and worse,” he continued, expressing concern that one never knows when the next strike is going to hit.

However, as Bishop Curtis Guillory had already counseled to the large gathering in St Anthony’s who had attended to pray and seek strength from one another: “We have a common humanity.”