The All Beliefs Community organized an Interfaith Memorial Service to remember the lives of those lost during the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary that occurred in December.

The All Beliefs Community organized an interfaith memorial service to remember the lives of those lost during the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary that occurred in December. Photo by Ashlee Eve ’14

In the wake of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Colgate’s Office of the Chaplains and the university’s Interfaith Service Initiative held a memorial prayer service on Saturday at the chapel. 

A number of faith-based organizations on campus participated, including the Newman Community, the University Church, the Colgate Christian Fellowship, the Colgate Jewish Union, the Hindu Student Association, and the Colgate Secular Association of Skeptical Students (SASS).

“There are many prayers for difficult times,” said Christopher Donnelly ’15 president of the Newman Community, “but there is no perfect response for a tragedy such as Sandy Hook — there never is.”

Donnelly chose to combine Catholic prayers of mourning and of hope to present to the audience. His prayer was followed by a short performance by the Newman choir.

Thomas Wobby ’14, president of SASS, read a list of the names of the victims of the shooting. “There is something fundamentally wrong with how our society treats tragedies such as Sandy Hook,” he said. “When somebody commits a terrible crime such as this one, their names get remembered forever while the victims’ get forgotten.”

Wobby also encouraged the audience to think of the people behind the names. “These are real people, not just names,” he emphasized. “If everyone remembers just one of the people from this list, I will feel as if I did my job.”

The service proceeded with several other compilations of prayer. Annie Hoefler ’15, president of the University Church, added portions of President Barack Obama’s speech addressing Sandy Hook into her presentation.

A representative of the Colgate Jewish Student Union read a Jewish prayer for the dead that speaks of hope and love.

Also, a member from the Hindu Student Association recited a prayer in Hindi.

Both students and faculty members attended the memorial service. “When something happens, it’s all over the news, and for that moment, everyone thinks about it, but people don’t think about it after,” said Fareeza Islam ’14, who was in the audience. “I’m glad that Colgate and the interfaith community are still remembering those victims.”