Chaplains rush in to aid grieving Navy Yard families

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Among those flocking to the Washington Navy Yard amid reports of a mass shooting Monday were those trained over a lifetime to handle life tragedies and incomprehensible acts of violence.

“We express our sympathy and condolences to families of those who have been killed, and trust that the perpetrators will be found,” said Col. Ron Crews, a retired Army chaplain and executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, which represents some 2,400 uniformed chaplains of many faiths.

“An event like this does produce anxieties, and some people will need counseling, and that’s what chaplains are trained to do,” Col. Crews said.

Clergy “will help a person talk through what they saw, what they felt, what they experienced,” he said. “That’s why the military — for more than 230 years — has had chaplains within the military, to be there for those when they need them.”

Details were not immediately available from the Navy Chaplain Corps about who responded to the scene in Southeast Washington on Monday morning. The Washington National Cathedral opened its doors soon after the shooting to offer prayers for victims and for the safety of D.C.-area residents.

The American Red Cross said its local volunteers and staff were at the scene, supporting a family reunification center and providing mental-health workers. The Red Cross also provided nearly 90 units of blood products to local hospitals.

The Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, archbishop for the military services, lamented the “terrible loss of life” at the military installation.

“I have often visited and celebrated the Eucharist there. It is a familiar place. I also prayed for the victims, the wounded, and their families at the noon Mass at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center,” the archbishop said.

“Somehow we must restore the notion of respect for life into the fabric of the nation,” he said. “When the uniqueness of the human person created in the image and likeness of God is universally recognized, the possibility of a mass shooting is more remote.”

The military archdiocese, created by Pope John Paul II in 1985, has chaplains that serve at military bases across the country and are embedded with military personnel around the world.

U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black, a retired Navy rear admiral, offered a prayer for the victims and their families.

“Lord, we ask you to comfort the victims and families of the deadly Navy Yard shooting, providing them with a peace that the world can’t give or take away,” Adm. Black said. “Use our senators today to hasten the time when harmony will dominate discord and hope will triumph over despair.”

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.

Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...

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