MONROE — The parishioners of St. Clare of Assisi, Monroe, gathered on September 11 under a canopy of doves to pray for the families and victims of 9/11.
The doves had been die cut with the help of a high school student and parish staff.
||Parishioners of St. Clare of Assisi Parish create a giant canopy of 3,000 die-cut doves to decorate St. Victor Church in Monroe on September 11, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist strike that downed the World Trade Centers, a plane in Pennsylvania, and part of the Pentagon, killing thousands. (Photo courtesy Rita Koster)
Volunteers took 50 doves home, wrote a victim’s name on each dove, added a cross, and prayed for each person. Each dove became a unique gift.
The 60 bags of 50 doves had been scooped up and taken home to be returned and hung by volunteers on Friday morning, Sept. 9. Some were hung from a beautiful, three-layered circular frame welded by another parishioner.
Others were hung from doors and on the end of pews. It became a visual of what 3,000 doves really look like. Doves were also placed in a basket for people to take home and continue to pray for those individuals and their families. Indeed, it was a community project.
On Friday, Joe Peters, our school principal, and the teachers brought some of our grade school children over to the church. I stood there with them as they tried to grasp the enormity of what had happened.
They were struggling to understand the “why” of 9/11. And in the midst of their questions, one of our little fourth grade girls, her face puzzled and strained, whispered her question “Did any children die?” And I had to look into those sad, puzzled eyes and say “yes.” In a very real sense it is the children who are the most vulnerable victims of this escalating violence. And so we prayed for the families, for those innocent people who died, and for those of us who remain.
On Sunday, Sept. 11, we gathered at our 9 a.m. Mass. Our youth ministry choir had worked hard to learn Kurt Bestor’s beautiful song “Prayer of the Children” sung without any accompaniment. Their voices challenged us to listen, “Can you hear the prayer of the children?” In the end, we prayed with one hand clutching the doves and the other hand offering forgiveness. We then joined Fr. Larry Bakke, our pastor, and Lauren Netzel as they released two doves into the bright, blue sky with our prayers for peace.
The paper doves’ journey, however, is not yet complete. When they are removed, one of our families will be taking them to Ground Zero. Their flight will be complete, but the journey towards peace continues with each of us.