People leave flowers, mourn and pray at a makeshift memorial at “The Rock” on the campus of Michigan State University on Feb. 14 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo: AFP)

By Michael Stechschulte, OSV News

Feb 16 2023

Police reported a 43-year-old male suspect killed three people and injured at least five others on university campus.

Catholic leaders in the state of Michigan reacted Feb. 14 to the news of a mass shooting on the campus of Michigan State University with a mixture of shock, sorrow and a pledge to pray for and accompany victims.

Police reported a 43-year-old male suspect killed three people and injured at least five others on the East Lansing campus when he opened fire late Feb. 13. The suspect was later discovered dead off campus with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

As news of the incident spread early the next morning, Lansing Bishop Earl A. Boyea expressed solidarity with the community and with first responders.

“A dreadfully dark day in East Lansing. May the love of Almighty God restore health to the injured; sustain those caring for them; bestow solace on those who mourn and eternal rest to those who were killed,” Bishop Boyea tweeted early Feb. 14. “The Catholic community is praying that they rest in peace.”

According to news reports, the shootings took place at Michigan State’s Berkey Hall and nearby Student Union, two blocks south of St. John Catholic Church and Student Center, which serves university students, faculty and staff. No violence was reported at the parish itself.

According to a Facebook post, staff and priests from the parish have been on scene ministering to those affected since the shooting took place.

The parish celebrated two morning Masses Feb. 14 at St. Thomas Aquinas, the parish’s other worship site, with Eucharistic adoration available at St. John. A Mass for the entire Michigan State community is scheduled for 8:45 p.m. The parish added that St. Thomas Aquinas Parish School had canceled classes Feb. 14.

“Staff and clergy have been active since the news broke last night of the tragic events on and near campus,” a post from the parish said. “How can you help? For now, prayers are welcome and we hope to dedicate our time and space to students in need.”

Michigan State University officials canceled classes for Feb. 14 and 15 as police continued to investigate. Law enforcement said the morning after the shooting they were still working to determine a motive, and the suspect was not affiliated with the university as a student or employee.

Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron joined his prayers to those of the East Lansing community, which is about 90 miles northwest of Detroit.

“It is with profound sadness that we learn more about the horrific violence in East Lansing yesterday evening. We join in mourning the young lives cut short, praying that the injured are restored to good health, and lifting up all those impacted by these terrible actions. Let us also offer prayers of gratitude for the heroic service of first responders and health care professionals,” Archbishop Vigneron said in a statement.

“May almighty God grant the Michigan State community peace and healing in the difficult days ahead,” he added.

Several Detroit-area parishes also expressed solidarity with the victims and their families, with some parishes planning virtual rosaries and other events to pray for those impacted.

Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Catholic Schools in Warren posted a prayer on Facebook begging God for mercy on the community and for peace.

“Almighty and most merciful God, we come to you with heavy hearts and troubled minds after the events at Michigan State University,” it said. “We pray for the victims, teachers, students, and families. May the souls of the innocent victims find eternal safety and rest. We pray for all who are hospitalized. We give thanks for all the first responders including law enforcement and medical personnel for their intervention. God, grant strength and peace to all those impacted. In Your name we pray, Amen.” – UCA News