Tragedy is never expected. It surprises you, takes your breath away, causes you to mourn deeply and to see the presence of God. We know at Ascension Parish.
On Nov. 24, the Ascension Catholic School community participated in the church service for eighth-grade student Peter Wilson and his grandmother Beatrice Wilson [they were killed at their home on Oct. 29]. It was a solemn affair, the culmination of many weeks of mourning for these two beautiful people that were murdered in the night as they slept and were awakened to terror.
In the weeks following, we received many a heartfelt card, email messages of support and prayer, and notes from school children from all over the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Unfortunately, some comments were unsettling, and I wanted to shout out that Peter had a wonderful family life — peaceful and supportive, nurturing and healthy. Though black and living in north Minneapolis, he and his grandmother were calm, peace-loving people dwelling in a Christ-centered home.
Our stereotypes were once again challenged recently when an intruder entered an elementary school in a quiet community populated predominantly of Caucasian people, with the result being 20 children and six adults killed at gunpoint.
We see clearly that violence favors no ethnicity, no income level, no neighborhood bearings. The absence of peace and safety can rear up anywhere.
As people of faith in Jesus Christ, we must look within ourselves and discern how better we can confront this reality of violence in our society. What are we doing in our homes to foster peace? Who are the politicians that support peaceful legislation? More important, do we support them? What are our actions teaching our children? Do our biases and prejudices get in the way of calling for action to stop the violence?
Prayer is an amazing thing, and I thank God that we can pray in our Catholic schools. The Catholic schools are one of the strongest safeguards toward teaching and demonstrating the peace of Jesus Christ to our children.
Through continued support, our Catholic schools can engage our children in this message of peace in ways that no other organizations can, through daily, consistent teachings of peace and justice, fairness and non-violent solutions to problems. The Church calls us to the understanding that life is to be preserved and protected. A few days before Peter died, he wrote in his Catholic religion class journal, “I am praying for my soul.”
We believe that this type of faith fostered in his inner city Catholic school prepared him for eternity.
Principal, Ascension Catholic School,