Prayer services for victims and for the church

Prayer services for victims and for the church

Photo by Carl Peters
A woman prays at the service held at Saint Joseph the Worker Parish, Haddon Township.

At precisely 7 p.m. on Oct. 5, there was an uneasy quiet at six churches in all corners of the Diocese of Camden as a priest faced the altar in humble supplication for five full minutes, the silence trying to communicate more than words.

Photo by Mike Walsh
Father John J. Vignone, V.F., presides at the Evening of Prayer for the Victims of Abuse and Reparation for the Sins of the Church at Saint Katharine Drexel Church, Egg Harbor Township on Oct. 5. That night, similar services were held in the five deaneries of the Diocese of Camden.

Remorse and regret, humility, sympathy — the Evenings of Prayer for the Victims of Abuse and Reparation for the Sins of the Church were an attempt to convey these emotions and more. It was an attempt to reach out to victims of clerical sexual abuse and their families and everyone else who has been affected by the scandals, including blameless priests, who are conscious of being judged, and church members who feel their faith has been shaken.

The intercessory prayer beseeched God to console “the faithful who are angry, confused, and searching for answers.” And the tone of the evening was captured in psalm 51: “My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.”

While acknowledging church leaders’ past failures, the prayer services were also a reminder that the church is stronger than its weakest members and the damage they have caused. In his remarks at the initial Evening of Prayer for the Victims of Abuse and Reparation for the Sins of the Church, held at Saint Agnes Church in Blackwood on Sept. 28, Bishop Dennis Sullivan said, “We can create a better future.”

“The church is about Jesus Christ, the Light of the World whose Light has been dimmed by the sins of some bishops and priests but can never be extinguished,” he said. “Now is the time for us to fan that Light back into flame.”

Father Frederick G. Link echoed the same theme when he presided at the service held at Saint Joseph the Worker Parish in Haddon Township.

“We must face the reality of this terrible situation, but also look to the reality of Jesus,” Father Link said in his homily. “Let us turn and look to Jesus who is the Good Shepherd. Jesus forgives us. He leads us, he loves us and he comforts us.”

The quiet Friday evening service in Haddon Township, Camden County, drew several dozen people from throughout the area, including a number of local clergymen for the Litany of the Most Precious Blood, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Scripture readings, hymns and the Divine Praises.

Prayer services also were held at Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish in Gibbsboro, Church of the Incarnation in Mantua, Saint Katharine Drexel in Egg Harbor Township, Christ the Good Shepherd in Vineland and Our Lady Star of the Sea in Cape May.

Categories: Latest News

About Author