May 26, 2022Pastoral Letter from Bishop Bruce on the recent shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas

Pastoral Letter from Bishop Bruce on the recent shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas

Thursday, May 26, 2022
Ascension Day

Dear sisters, brothers, siblings in Christ,

How long must we wait for an end to senseless gun violence against another beloved child of God?

How long must we wait for an end to the slaughtering of innocents?

Just a few days ago, I opened my iPad and was shocked and outraged to learn that 19 children and 2 adults were killed in a shooting at an Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. This horrific act of violence occurred just 10 days after 10 Black shoppers and workers were gunned down at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and 1 Chinese churchgoer was shot and killed, and others were injured in Laguna Woods, CA. My heart is aching over all these senseless deaths.

How long, Lord, how long?

Once again, a great tragedy has befallen innocents in this country. The rise of gun violence cannot be swept under the rug or shrugged off. To use a gun with the intention of deliberately harming or killing another human being – especially a child – is the greatest of sins. I am not talking here about hunting wildlife or target shooting. I am talking about the deliberate use of a firearm – especially assault weapons – to take a human life, any human life. It cannot, it shall not be tolerated, and we must act together to eradicate this scourge on humanity.

How long, Lord, how long?

On this Ascension Day, I am asking everyone in this diocese to begin a Novena (the ancient practice of nine days of prayer) from now until the Feast of Pentecost I ask you to pray. There are suggestions for prayer at the end of this letter – please use these or any prayers that you would like. Pray. Pray for those who have died by gun violence. Pray for their families and friends. Pray, especially for the children, whose young lives were cut short so horrifically. Pray for the emergency personnel, doctors, nurses, and medical technicians who had to care for and witness this complete disregard for human life. Pray for our siblings in Christ who were driven to carry out these tragic acts. Pray. Please pray.

How long, Lord, how long?

I ask you also to mark your calendars. On June 21 at 6:30 p.m. we are organizing an Interfaith Prayer Vigil at the Cathedral here in Kansas City. We will never receive an answer to our prayer How long, Lord, how long? until we come together and work together as a community to address the causes of this plague on innocents. I ask you to join me on that evening either in person or virtually as it will be live-streamed.

How long, Lord, how long?

Please know I am holding you all in prayer, as I am at the same time holding all who have died. We need to pray and work together to enable us to move beyond How long, Lord, how long? to It is over. It is done.


Here are the names of those who were killed on Tuesday for your prayers.

Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, Alithia Ramirez, Amerie Jo Garza, Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, Eliahana Cruz Torres, Eliana “Ellie” Garcia, Eva Mireles, Irma Garcia, Jackie Cazares, Jailah Nicole Silguero, Jayce Luevanos, Jose Flores, Layla Salazar, Makenna Lee Elrod, Maite Rodriguez, Miranda Mathis, Nevaeh Bravo, Rojelio Torres, Tess Marie Mata, Uziyah Garcia, Xavier Lopez.

Below are prayer resources for every member and congregation of this diocese to use, from Enriching Our Worship 2.

For a Child Who Dies by Violence

Loving God, Jesus gathered your little ones in his arms and blessed them. Have pity on those who mourn for N., an innocent slaughtered by the violence of our fallen world. Be with us as we struggle with the mysteries of life and death; in our pain, bring your comfort, and in our sorrow, bring your hope and your promise of new life, in the name of Jesus our Savior. Amen.

or this

God our deliverer, gather our horror and pity for the death of your child N. into the compass of your wisdom and strength, that through the night we may seek and do what is right, and when morning comes trust ourselves to your cleansing justice and new life; through Christ our Savior. Amen.

or this

God, do not hide your face from us in our anger and grief for the death of N. Renew us in hope that your justice will roll down like mighty waters and joy spring up from the broken ground in a living stream; through Jesus our Savior. Amen.

For One Who has Killed

Holy God, we lift into the light of your justice N. [the one] who has taken the life of your child N. Where our hearts are stone return to us hearts of flesh; that grief may not swallow us up, but new life find us through Jesus the crucified, with whom we are raised by your power. Amen.

For Those Who Mourn

God of compassion and strength: keep safe the soul of your child N., whose moment of pain and fear is past. Send your healing to N. [and N.] and all who mourn, that their suffering may find peace and resolution within your love, whose Spirit gives life in Christ our Savior. Amen.

or this

Most loving God: the death of your Son has opened to us a new and living way. Give us hope to overcome our despair; help us to surrender N. to your keeping, and let our sorrow find comfort in your care; through the name and presence of Jesus our Savior. Amen.

or this

God, as Mary stood at the foot of the cross, we stand before you with broken hearts and tearful eyes. Keep us mindful that you know our pain, and free us to see your resurrection power already at work in N.’s life. In your time, raise us from our grief as you have raised N. to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

or this

Merciful God, you grant to children an abundant entrance into your kingdom. In your compassion, comfort those who mourn for N., and grant us grace to conform our lives to her/his innocence and faith, that at length, united with her/him, we may stand in your presence in the fullness of joy; for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Prayer vigil with candles

We light a candle for all those who have lost their lives due to gun violence the teachers, the caregivers and especially the children.

We light a candle for all who have been physically or mentally wounded due to gun violence.
May they find meaningful care that helps in the struggle to heal.

We light a candle for all the family and friends of those killed or injured
That they may find comfort in their grief and support for the road ahead.

We light a candle for those that committed the violence
That they may receive a fair trial and just sentence.

We to light a candle for all the first responders, caregivers, and good Samaritans
May they know the gratitude of all those affected.

But most of all, we light a candle for the lawmakers and all those in power,
That they may hear the voices of everyone affected and realize now is the time to act. That they may enact real change to the structures that promote and enable gun violence. That they may pass common sense gun legislation that limits the risks to our schools, our workplaces, and our homes.

–Elizabeth R. Goeke, March 2018, courtesy of the Rev. Susan Roberts.

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