Most Blessed Sacrament Parish offers prayer vigil, Mass for victims of Lamar High School shooting

North Texas Catholic
(Mar 22, 2023) Local

Fatima Osman and Gabriella Ruiz, students at Lamar High School in Arlington, pray for deceased student Ja'Shawn James Poirier during a vigil on March 21, 2023 at Most Blessed Sacrament in Arlington. Poirier was fatally shot Monday March 20 outside the high school, which sits just across the street from Most Blessed Sacrament Church. Nearly 300 people attended the vigil. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

ARLINGTON — Knowing that their neighbor was suffering, parishioners at Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Arlington did what they knew was best: place the anguish in the hands of Jesus.

The parish is across the street from Lamar High School, where two students were shot, one fatally, on the steps outside the school about 6:50 a.m. on March 20.

The next evening, Deacon Joe Ramos led a prayer vigil for the victims and the school. About 250 parishioners, students, faculty, and community members attended.

He opened the vigil saying, “You can’t step out of Most Blessed [Sacrament Church] and not lay eyes on Lamar High School. So we lift them up in prayer and protection to Our Lord and God, who is all good.”

“We rest assured that your love, God, is bigger than any evil event, and your love will prevail through all of this,” prayed the deacon.

About 100 students from Lamar, along with a few teachers and staff, are parishioners of Most Blessed Sacrament.

Bryan Stein, a middle school band director in the Arlington Independent School District, attended Lamar High School as a teen. Now his son, Evan, is a sophomore at the school, and they are parishioners of Most Blessed Sacrament.

Stein explained why he and Evan attended the vigil, although they did not know Ja’Shawn Poirier, the 16-year-old student who was killed. The band director has taught hundreds of students in his 23 years with the district, and he said of Poirier, “He’s not one of mine, but he’s one of ours.”

Most Blessed Sacrament parishioner Carolyn Dove and her family pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet during the prayer vigil outside Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Arlington on March 21, 2023. The church organized an ecumenical prayer vigil to pray for Ja'Shawn Poirier, the student who was fatally shot Monday outside Lamar High School; and for students, teachers, and the community. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

According to Deacon Ramos, his wife, Madonna, initiated the prayer vigil as soon as she learned of the shooting. The couple lived in the Killeen area during the Luby’s and Fort Hood shootings in 1991 and 2009, respectively, and saw the community impact of the shock and grief.

Deacon Ramos explained the Lamar tragedy was “heavy on our hearts. We had to pray.”

Madonna Ramos said that heartbreak “makes us turn back to God, our source of help, our source of strength,” adding that the faithful seek the Lord in times of joy and in times of sorrow.

She led the Divine Mercy Chaplet at the vigil, expressing intentions for the two shooting victims, their families, Lamar students, Lamar faculty and staff, and all schools.

Chloe Harris and Annette Singleton, freshmen at Lamar, knew Poirier and will miss the “sweet, kind-hearted, funny friend” who excelled at basketball.

Besides grieving their schoolmate, they expressed concern for the Poirier family and for the principal and other staff who saw the trauma firsthand.

Deacon Ramos urges the diocese to continue to pray for those all of those impacted by the tragedy at Lamar High School, as well as for the safety of all schools. “We will help each other get through the hard times,” he said.

Most Blessed Sacrament invited the community to a Mass celebrated by Monsignor Joseph Pemberton on Wednesday, March 22 at 6:30 p.m., followed by a Rosary for its neighboring school that mourns the loss of a student.

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