A Mexican-American priest in El Paso, a city filled with grief over a mass shooting aimed at Latinos, tried all week to figure out what to say to his congregation on Sunday. The message he finally chose: “You do not have to be afraid.”
After a week of sharing El Paso’s grief, the Rev. Fabian Marquez sought a theme for his homily that would help a fearful and anguished community find comfort.
Still, he had another community to attend to, his congregation at El Buen Pastor, a small mission church on the outskirts of El Paso, where every weekend he presides over three Masses in Spanish and one in English and Spanish.
Father Marquez found himself drawing inspiration to
“We need to follow the commandment of love — love God, love your neighbor,” the priest said. “This was a tragedy that came to break us and separate us, but God is inviting us to spread the love that only comes from him, and only with that are we going to be able to overcome this tragedy and this sadness.”
People praying at El Buen Pastor Mission on Saturday night, during a mass to honor the victims of the El Paso mass shooting.
He was the Diocese of El Paso’s first seminarian in six years, ordained in 2004. Five years ago, he was dispatched to El Buen Pastor in Sparks, one of the impoverished colonias around El Paso, where residents had fought for years for access to water, sewage and electricity services.
He constantly collects thoughts for homilies, sometimes pausing in conversation to jot something down. He holes up in his office to prepare, looking up the verses and sketching out the points he would like to make. That said, he likes to keep it extemporaneous.
Father Marquez waited with them overnight and into the following morning. At around 10 a.m., he encouraged them to join him in prayer. They said the Lord’s Prayer, they offered one another peace, and he recited for them the 23rd Psalm: “The lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” At 10:30, law enforcement officials began taking families into another room, one by one. The priest sat beside them as they were told that their relative was among the 22 who had died.
Over the past week, he helped the Flores’s children choose readings and songs for the service. He encouraged them to share stories of their parents; he had never met the couple, but he wanted his homily to reflect their lives and character. He wanted their family to feel reassured.
Lee Ann Beck, a friend of Father Marquez for 15 years, went with him to the
“The people needed comfort in the chaos, and he happened to be the voice,” she said. “He has this way, he has this gift of bringing that peace. Not everyone has that.”
“You’re the only one who knows what that’s like — how are you?” Ms. Beck recalled asking Father Marquez.
During the mass on Sunday, candles for each of the 22 people killed had been set before the altar.
“Don’t be afraid,” Father Marquez said, standing in the aisle among the congregation. “Those are the words God gave us when we are all afraid.”Read more: The New York Times
... but we do have to go on working against this hate. Surprising lack of stories about Dayton for some reason. Odd Carry a gun! He’s right you don’t have to be afraid if you’re armed👌🏾 The advice is good, but feelings are realistic, there's too much hate We are not a fearful people, never have been, never will be! ElPasoStrong
Do not be afraid of those that kill the body rather be afraid of those that kill the spirit.-Our Lord. You do not need to be afraid unless you are a little boy and a priest wants to talk to you If the congregation wants a different boy-toucher with a more realistic message, they should all go to church with guns. I bet he’ll be scared then. dontbescaredmyass
you do not have to be afraid of white people
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El Paso and the Strength of the Mexican Corrido'El Llanto de El Paso' is a collective cry that brings people together — el canto del pueblo, or the song of the people — that says: 'We do not fear you. You have only made us stronger. Your hate will only bring us closer.' (KQED) KQED We do not fear Hispanics, but we do not want them to demand tax funded benefits, like free K - 12 for 5 kids, a green card, citizenship after you broke the law to enter my home. Do not ask me to be a responsible law abiding citizen, but not them. Hard pass.