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Monday, August 25, 2014

Bishop: Slain US journalist Foley opened our eyes

ROCHESTER – The Holy Rosary Church was filled to capacity Sunday afternoon as more than 900 community members gathered during Sunday’s Mass to honor and remember slain journalist James Foley.

The Mass did not begin until 2 p.m., but community members were already making their way to their seats as early as noon. ...

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ROCHESTER – The Holy Rosary Church was filled to capacity Sunday afternoon as more than 900 community members gathered during Sunday’s Mass to honor and remember slain journalist James Foley.

The Mass did not begin until 2 p.m., but community members were already making their way to their seats as early as noon.

Tom Bebdington, the director of communications for the Diocese of Manchester, said the church can seat around 900 people. By 1:15 p.m., people had to stand around aisles in order to attend.

Shortly before the Mass started, Bishop Peter Libasci, the Diocese of Manchester, spoke to members of the media to read a letter from the secretary of state of the Vatican, who expressed his condolences to the Foley family.

Reverand Paul Gousse, the
pastor of the church, also spoke to the media before the Mass. He said he has been asked countless times what he does to bring comfort to community members. It’s not the words that heal, he said, but simply being together that helps.

“It isn’t so much the words that are spoken as it is the presence of being surrounded by loved ones, from a simple touch to a smile,” Reverend Gousse said. “That’s what gives comfort, that what gives consolation. And in the end, that’s what gives us hope.”

Reverend Gousse normally leads Sunday’s Mass, but Bishop Libasci led it this time to honor Foley and his family.

“Coming in to the church and seeing so many and hearing the sounds of singing, so many voices in harmony…we pray, especially during this Mass, in James’ name, that the day will not be far in distance that all people everywhere will be able to sing in peace,” Bishop Libasci said.

Libasci also delivered the Mass’ homily, saying that Foley’s death is not just a community loss, but a national and regional one as well.

“Bound together by a deep sense of compassion and human remorse, I wish to extend to you, in the name of all people in goodwill, our deepest sympathy, our continued prayer, and our pledge to keep the witness of James’ life a personal call to faith, courage and love,” he said to Foley’s parents, John and Diane Foley, during his homily.

Bishop Libasci focused his homily around a child’s baptism, saying those who are baptized constantly face challenges to find what it means to be a child of God.

James, he said, exemplified what it means to be a child of God by telling the stories of those in need and showing others the world through a different lens.

His words brought tears to many of the service’s attendees.

“We are challenged to hear the cries a world away,” Bishop Libasci said.

James’ family sat in the first four to five rows in the left-hand side of the church. At the end of the Mass, John and Diane stood together at the front of the church, thanking the community in soft, hushed voices for its kindness, love, and support.

Bishop Libasci thanked members of the Islamic community for speaking at last night’s candlelit vigil at the end of the Mass.

“Look how James as called together so many people,” he said.

Many members of the Mass gathered at the front of the church to share words of comfort. Liz Harte and Bruce Sawicki of Dover thought the Mass perfectly exemplified peace, love, and eternal life.

“This just brings the need for peace in this world,” Harte said.

Harte also said she is amazed by the Foley family’s courage through these times.

“I believe their faith has suspended them through this horrific, horrific deal,” she said.”

“I came away with that Jim did not die in vain, and we will not let Jim die in vain,” she added. “I think the bishop is calling out for peace in the world.”

Bishop Libasci spoke with many of the service’s members afterwards, saying grief will not end in one day, and it might not end in a year, but the community will not forget.

“We have to be a people who renounce evil, embrace goodness, holiness, to go beyond ourselves to become our best selves,” he said.