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For diocesan schools, National School Walkout is a time of prayer

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March 14, exactly one month after the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., students from around the country walked out of their schools in protest of the nation's gun laws for 17 minutes to pay tribute to the 17 students and staff members killed that afternoon by gunfire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Most Catholic schools across the country marked the somber anniversary of the school shooting and support youth-led advocacy of anti-gun violence in a different way — through prayer.

In the Diocese of Arlington, several schools, including Nativity School in Burke and Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington held prayer services.

Both Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria and the St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington honored the Parkland victims by lighting candles, then reading the 17 names and closing in prayer.

“It was beautiful — everyone worked together,” said William Green, the St. Thomas More eighth-grade student council president. Green and his fellow eighth-graders lead the nearly 100 middle-schoolers in prayer at the cathedral. Assistant Principal Nelda Thomas encouraged them to be “prayer warriors.”

Eighth-grade teacher Cynthia Larsen said her students identified with the Parkland victims, some of whom were 14 — the same age of many of her students.

“(They are in a time in their lives that) they know that they need to be leaders in some way, but it’s not always clear how to find that path,” she said. “This was an opportunity to be in solidarity with the 14-year-olds, but also in a hopeful way to shine light.”

Another nationwide school walkout is scheduled for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. A related event is the "March for Our Lives," a youth-led demonstration March 24 in Washington, where 500,000 are expected to attend. 

Carol Zimmermann from Catholic News Service contributed to this article. 



© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018