There is an evil lurking...

Sister Stephanie Schmidt offers a petition at the Gathering in Prayer Against Racism and Violence vigil

Benedictine sisters, oblates, and volunteers were among the 200 persons listening as Bishop Dwane Brock repeatedly asked them, "Who is my neighbor?" in his reflection on the Parable of the Good Samaritan. He spoke at the May 26 "Gathering in Prayer Against Racism and Violence" vigil that was hosted by Sacred Heart parish and organized by the Office of Social Justice & Life, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Erie. While the original purpose of the vigil was to remember the victims of the racially-motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, on May 14, it was expanded to include prayer for the victims of the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. 

Bishop Brock, of Victory Christian Center, began his passionate reflection saying, "There is an evil lurking in this country." He identified that evil as the labeling and classification that allows some to retain power at the expense of others. As he repeatedly asked, "Who is my neighbor?", he challenged hearers to drop labels such as race, political party, ideology, orientation, affiliation, geographical boundaries, skin color, and religion that discriminate against our neighbors.

Prioress Sister Stephanie Schmidt, who along with other women religious offered brief prayers of petition, said, "As Benedictines, we strive to follow Benedict's mandate to receive all as Christ. As citizens of this country that is plagued by violence and racism, we must see our call as broader than receiving only those who come to our monastery as Christ. We must work to break down the evil that lurks among us in the form of labels and discrimination as Bishop Brock so clearly challenged us."

Bishop Lawrence Persico of the Diocese of Erie and Rt. Rev. Melinda Hall, Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul, participated in the vigil.