Bishop Olson prays at solidarity vigil for Israel at Beth-El Congregation
FORT WORTH — Bishop Michael Olson joined faith and civic leaders at a community-wide solidarity vigil for Israel at Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth on October 10.
Bishop Olson was invited to lead the 450 attendees in prayer. He composed a prayer petitioning the “Lord of Israel, Lord of all people” for justice, forgiveness, healing, solace, and peace, concluding with a quote from the prophet Isaiah.
Also attending were rabbis from four local synagogues and about 20 faith leaders from area Christian churches. Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker, Texas House of Representatives Member Craig Goldman, and Assistant Chief of Police of Fort Worth Joseph Sparrow made remarks in support of Israel and promised unity and security to the local Jewish community. Several Fort Worth city council members were present.
Rep. Goldman, who represents southwest Tarrant County, told the crowd that he introduced a resolution in the legislature’s special session in support of Israel.
“I’m proud to say that every single member of the Texas State House came and stood next to me as we passed that resolution and passed unanimously. There’s a strong message,” Goldman said. “What we do here matters.”
Afterward, Rep. Goldman said he was “pleasantly surprised to see a full congregation, to see so many people from the community here, not just from this congregation — literally a wide variety from the Fort Worth community.”
The solidarity vigil was held as a response to Hamas launching an assault into south Israel on October 7. To date, more than 1,200 have died, 2,900 injured, and more than 100 taken hostage. Israel has declared war on Hamas, and airstrikes and combat continue.
About half of those present at the Fort Worth vigil are members of Beth-El Congregation. Some have lived in Israel, even served in the Israel Defense Forces, and most have friends and family who live in Israel, so the attack feels personally threatening.
Barry Abels, Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County executive director, read firsthand accounts of the bombing from his brother, who lives in Israel.
The vigil also included Scripture reading, poetry reading, remarks by Jewish and civic leaders, prayers, and songs, concluding in the singing of the national anthem of Israel as attendees waved small Israeli flags.
Bishop Olson observed, “It’s very important for us as Catholics to not only respect the human dignity of all people, but in a particular way to remember the unique identity of Jewish people through whom God gave us salvation by the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, through the ‘yes’ of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
He continued, “In many ways, Israel is the symbol of the Jewish people, including the small Jewish Community here in North Texas.”