Vigil offers hope, prayers,
By Ken Fountain
Daily Cougar Staff
Dozens of students and other UH community
members came together in the sanctuary of the A. D. Bruce Religion Center
on Wednesday night for an
interdenominational "Service of Hope and
Prayer" honoring the victims of Tuesday's terrorist attacks.
Somber organ music filled the room as individuals
slowly filed in and sat wordlessly in the minutes before the service began
at 7 p.m. Then the Rev. John Boll,
director of the Catholic Newman Center,
opened the service.
"The events of this last day or so have
gathered us here," Boll said. "This is a great tragedy, but we continue
"We gather as a community at the University
of Houston, in solidarity with the people of all of our nation.
"In times like this, in whatever way we
link into the deeper realities of life, we reach for hope.
"We turn to our neighbors to lend support,
and do all we can to help those in need. Many here have donated blood.
Prayer vigils have already taken place and
continue to take place.
"Tonight we join in those efforts, with
our goodwill, our prayer and our hope."
Boll said the hope had three facets.
"We hope that friends, relatives and colleagues,
fellow citizens, will be found safe and rescued. So we pray for them and
their rescuers," he said.
Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar
Students light candles at
a prayer vigil for victims of Tuesday's terrorist attacks. The nondenominational
"Service for Hope and Prayer" was held in the A.D. Bruce Religion Center
on Wednesday night.
"Knowing that there is already great loss
of life, we hope that there will be, in whatever way we see life continuing
after death, the fullness of life for those who have
"And finally, we hope that our efforts
to build our American ideals, our vision of what life should be like for
all people, with its respect for all -- regardless of race,
religion, country of origin, and so on
-- with its openness to the stranger and refugee, with its freedom and
enterprise, we hope it will not be destroyed in this tragedy.
"But, rather, that we will continue and
renew to embrace our world with care for all people, and work for freedom,
and justice, and peace for all.
"Therefore we come together here in solidarity
with all the people of our University, and our nation; with all the faiths
and beliefs of our University community --
Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist
and many others -- we come together to show our support and hope. And to
Boll then asked the congregation to stand
and sing a hymn, "Let There Be Peace on Earth." The first and last line
of the short song was "Let there be peace on Earth,
and let it begin with me."
Rabbi Kenny Weiss, executive director of
Houston Hillel, an organization for Jewish college students, then addressed
"The danger with a tragedy of this magnitude
is that individuals become lost and anonymous," Weiss said.
"And so we make sure to mention the names
of people who have experienced the horror, and will forever live with scars,
both emotional and physical.
"We mention the names of those people whose
destinies, whose presence, whose location is still uncertain, and we mention
the names of those people for whom we
"We light candles of hope. Hope for the
victims, hope for those others to find strength. Hope for our leaders,
who bear a terrible burden during the days, weeks and
Weiss asked members of the gathering to
stand and mention the names of individuals they were praying for. After
a nervous pause, a few people, tentatively, did just
Boll then read from names that had already
been entered in a "Book of Support and Prayers," which he later said would
remain at the Bruce Center "throughout the
time of this crisis."
Josh Howell, of University Christian Fellowship,
then led a guided prayer session, mentioning groups of people the gathering
could silently pray for.
Among them were "the many families that
were torn apart; children that were orphaned; emergency crews as they work
around the clock; the government of the United
States of America."
"Also pray for a simple solution, somehow,
to this tragedy," Howell said.
"I'd like to ask you to pray for Muslim
students and their families. Pray that people would know this situation
is far, far removed from them. Pray for their protection, for
them and their families," he said.
After a second rendition of "Let There
Be Peace on Earth," the community members were asked to come to the front
of the chapel to receive a candle.
After lighting the candles, the group walked
slowly, to prevent their flames from being extinguished, to the grassy
hillock in front of the Ezekiel Cullen Building.
After the group stood silently for a few
moments, Boll brought the ceremony to a close.
"I would ask you to look around you," he
said. "These are candles of hope that we hold. There are candles of hope,
but they are candles. The light of hope for our
nation, for our University, for all of
our people, is in your own heart.
"And so we invite you, we send you, we
send one another as lights of hope in our community. To continue, as you
already have, to reach out to those in need, and to
work so that this tragedy can be transformed.
And that our world may grow in its care for one another.
"So take the candles with you. And as we
extinguish those, take the light of hope in your own heart, and go to be
a light of hope in our world."
Boll said a full memorial service for the
victims of the tragedy would be scheduled soon.