This year’s Feast of the Holy Innocents Martyrs Mass at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist included a memorial for the 27 people who were shot on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook School
Tucked safely beneath her mother’s arm, 5-year-old kindergartner Ava Carosielli probably didn’t know why she was at Mass on Friday. Clutching a toy dog, she may only have understood that she was in a familiar place among people who love her.
This year’s Feast of the Holy Innocents Martyrs Mass at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist included a memorial for the 27 people who were shot on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn. Twenty students and six adults died.
Christine Carosielli, a St. John’s parishioner and Ava’s mother, said the family wanted to pay homage to those who died. Her sons, Tyler and Kenan, are servers at the church at 627 McKinley Ave. NW.
“The tragedy of it all is overwhelming,” she said. “We thought it was important to come and pay our respects.”
In Catholicism, the Feast of the Holy Innocents Martyrs, also known as “Childermas,” is based on the Gospel of Matthew’s account of baby boys being killed in Bethlehem by King Herod, in pursuit of the Christ child.
“I felt this was an appropriate time to offer prayer support for the victims, as well as for the victims of abortion,” the Rev. Ronald Klingler said of the Mass, which was concelebrated by the Rev. Edward L. Beneleit of St. Peter’s Catholic Church.
Klingler said one of his first challenges as a young priest was having to minister to a family whose 7-year-old son had drowned in Lake Milton near Warren.
While en route to their home in a deputy’s cruiser, Klingler searched desperately for words of consolation. He said he told the child’s grieving mother, “You have an angel in heaven.”
“After a painful moment, she turned to me and said, ‘I don’t want an angel in heaven. I want my baby back,’” he recalled.
Klingler said the experience taught him that even the most well-intentioned sentiments aren’t always enough.
Klingler said the death of any child is a tragedy, but that “the slaughter of children is a senseless crime.”
At Friday’s Mass, the parish choir performed “There is a Place,” an anthem written by John L. Bell in 1996 to commemorate a school shooting in Dunblane, Scotland, during which 17 children and a teacher were killed, and 11 other children were wounded.
“It’s only human to want a solution and an explanation to the age-old questions of why and how,” Klingler said. “But that’s not why we’re here today. We’re here to pray for the victims of violence ... may their souls rest in peace.”
Friday’s Mass drew about 100 people, and included a reading of the Sandy Hook School victims’ names: Charlotte Bacon, 6; Daniel Barden, 7; Rachel Davino, 29; Olivia Engel, 6; Josephine Gay, 7; Ana Marquez-Greene, 6; Dylan Hockley, 6; Dawn Hocksprung, 47; Madeline Hsu, 6; Catherine Hubbard, 6; Chase Kowalski, 7; Jesse Lewis, 6; James Mattioli, 6; Grace McDonnell, 7; Anne Marie Murphy, 52; Emilie Parker, 6; Jack Pinto, 6; Noah Pozner, 6; Caroline Previdi, 6; Jessica Rekos, 6; Avielle Richman, 6; Lauren Russeau, 30; Mary Sherlach, 56; Victoria Soto, 27; Benjamin Wheeler, 6; Allison Wyatt, 6.
Page 2 of 2 - Massacre in Bethlehem
“When they (Magi) had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
— Gospel of Matthew