Two Bristol churches have scheduled nighttime vigils on Friday to remember and pray for Newtown, CT, the site of last week's Sandy Hook school shooting.
St. Michael's Episcopal Church at 399 Hope St. announced an "Evening Prayer of Remembrance" set for 6:30 pm, and St. Mary's Church, 330 Wood St., is hosting a 7 pm candlelight vigil organized by a local family.
Rev. David Lucey of St. Michael's explained in an email message that "parishioners and their friends reached out to one another for solace, understanding and comprehension," and "incorporated those responses to Newtown's tragedy in a our regular Sunday Eucharists in the sermon and in our prayers."
Church members also decided to dedicate their Parenting Support Group meeting, held the same night as the Sandy Hook School shooting, to discussing how to help their kids cope with the aftermath.
"It became apparent from those gatherings that still more was needed," Rev. Luceuy wrote. "The conversation and prayer continued, and through the voices of the congregation members, the decision was made to hold a service during the week."
The plan for Friday night's vigil "comes from the English church tradition of Evening Prayer [with] readings, psalms, prayers, hymns, and time for reflection," Lucey explained. "[The practice] began in the monastic communities of the Benedictine orders from the late fifth and early sixth centuries of the Common Era, and have continued in the Anglican and Episcopal Churches from the 16th century to today."
Local family organizes vigil at St. Mary's:
In an email message, Debbie Conley explained that the St. Mary's event is set for exactly one week after the first vigil held in Newtown.
"We were all so heartbroken with such heavy hearts and we were trying to figure out what we could do," Conley wrote. "[and] we all (in the Conley household) brainstormed this idea."
Debbie's husband, Pat, and her daughter, Christina who's a member of the St. Mary Academy — Bay View class of 2016, prepared statements that they plan to read at the prayer vigil.
Christina also wrote an announcement sent to local media outlets.
"Show you care for these teachers, children, and families by supporting this cause," reads Christina's announcement. "Let us do the absolute best we can to come together to provide endless support to the victims and their families during the Christmas season."
Attendees of the event are asked to bring their own candles to light at the vigil, which will also include songs and prayer, Debbie Conley explained.