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Prayer Vigil Calls for Hope and Healing

More than 1000 students, faculty and staff attended a special prayer vigil Tuesday evening at Duquesne University for five athletes wounded in the shooting incident. The Spiritan fathers led the service of hope and healing, and were joined by athletes, coaches, administrators, and representatives of the student body. President Charles Dougherty addressed the audience with a message of unity for the entire campus community. The text of his address follows.

President's Remarks

This is a time of grief for our whole community - students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. Five of our students, our friends, were wounded in a vicious and cowardly attack that could easily have been even more tragic. Our minds, hearts, and spirits are with our wounded students and their families and in a special way with Sam Ashaolu. And we are conscious of many wounds of the spirit that have been inflicted on those who witnessed this horrifying cruelty and on friends and classmates of the injured. As a community of faith, we stand with them now and in all their needs.

Others have hurt us. Let us be sure that we do not magnify that harm by hurting each other as we grieve. I want to be clear and direct with this message. This terrible attack is not about race. Bullets tear human flesh regardless of color. Our University is committed to respect for human dignity and to diversity. We will not tolerate any suggestions or actions based on the assumption that this was a racial incident.

More explicitly, this tragedy is not to be associated with our Black Student Union. They held an appropriate and peaceful social event. They followed our common rules and policies. We are proud of our Black Student Union and the service they provide to Duquesne University. Associating this tragedy with them is manifestly unfair, incompatible with our University's values, and just another way of hurting ourselves.

The harm Sunday morning was done by two 18 year olds with fragile egos and powerful weapons-weapons whose only use is to shoot or threaten to shoot people. We do not know the specifics of their backgrounds and personal histories, but they grew up in an American society filled with violence in music, movies, and video games. And they grew up in a nation and a state that refuses to take reasonable measures to contain the easy availability of handguns.

We do not know why a loving God permits evil of this sort, but we have faith that love does prevail in the end. Adversity can bring out the best in a person; it can also bring out the best in a community. We have much to be proud of these last few days. Students came to the aid of other students to pull them to safety, to apply first aid, to insure speedy access to professional treatment. Our faculty and staff have shown the kind of care for students that defines Duquesne University. Students have supported one another through our confusion, anger, and sadness. And your presence here tonight shows our most fundamental values at work-concern for one another and for our University and trust in the Spirit Who Gives Life.

There may be more difficult days ahead for us, more heartaches to bear. Let us bear this day's burdens and those that may come in solidarity with one another. We have been wounded. Let us resolve that we will not inflict more wounds on each other, but instead make Duquesne University an even better place because of the way we stand together through this suffering.

This release was posted on Tuesday, September 19th, 2006 at 9:14 am

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.