Members of the BC community gathered for a Mass of healing and hope in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shootings. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

“We have too much tragedy to pray for here today,” Boston College Director of Campus Ministry Rev. Tony Penna said as he welcomed more than 150 members of the BC community to a Mass of healing and hope in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting that left 49 people dead and even more wounded.

“It is in sadness but in faith that we gather here to pray for the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando and for their families and friends, as well as all those around our country who have been affected by this tragedy,” said Penna.

Penna welcomed people from multiple faiths to the St. Joseph’s Chapel service, noting that the only requirement was to “pray from the bottom of your hearts.”

Forty-nine men and women were killed and 53 wounded inside the Pulse nightclub early Sunday morning by a single gunman, who was later killed by police. Authorities are investigating the incident as an act of domestic terrorism and trying to determine why the gunman targeted the club, a popular venue in Orlando’s LGBTQ community.

In the wake of such a staggering loss of so many lives, Penna offered that a place to start shaping a more peaceful world begins with each individual.

“We can honor the 49 who died by taking care of the little prejudices, the little sins that live within us,” said Penna. “We can be attentive to the biases in our own lives, be reflective and see how we can eradicate them from our hearts and our heads and perhaps we will become more safe in honor of the 49 who died in Orlando.”

Prayers were offered for the victims and their families, for the first responders and for the LGBTQ community.


Two large bowls were placed before the altar, and each attendee was asked to step forward and pick out one of the dozens of small strips of paper, each bearing the name and age of one of the shooting victims.

When the Mass ended, people filed out, each taking with them the name of a stranger to be remembered in thought and prayer.

By Ed Hayward | News & Public Affairs