We are Orlando. That was the name of the Interfaith Memorial and Peace Vigil held in Ridgewood in honor and remembrance of the 49 victims and their families of the Orlando shootings, the worst mass shooting in the country’s history.
Members from several different faith groups and traditions joined together at All Saints United American Catholic Church (UACC) on Thursday, June 16.
The clergy that were in attendance were Fr. Antonios Makayrus and Fr. Alkes Eshak Gerges from St. Mary and St. Antonios Coptic Orthodox Church, in Ridgewood; Deacon Angel Lugo and Fr. Mike Lopez of All Saints Church in Ridgewood; Fr. John Diele of the Church for All People in Brooklyn; Fr. Joseph Ciccone of St. Miriams Church of Flourtown, PA.; Rev. Diane Wildow of the NYC Disaster Chaplaincy Services; Rev. Nathan Bisby of the NYC Chaplaincy Services; and Rev. Brother Peter J. Avitabile of the Compassionate Society of Christ.
“We wanted to bring all the faith groups of Ridgewood together to pray in the midst of this tragedy,” said Father Mike Lopez, pastor at UACC.
During the vigil, Father Lopez spoke on the importance of unity and spreading love when there is so much hatred in the world.
“We come together to lift our hearts up together in prayer to join ourselves in the hope of peace, not only in our community of Ridgewood, not only in Orlando, but peace in this world that we share with all of our sisters and brothers,” Father Lopez told those in attendance. “We come to this place because we recognize that we do not stand alone. We come to this place because we realize that we must come together in order to affect change in our world.”
The vigil began with a gathering song, followed by an opening prayer. There was then a reading from the Bible with a reflection by Father Lopez. The clergy then read the names of the 49 victims of the shooting as everyone lit their memorial candles, followed by a meditation song and a prayer for the departed.
“Today, sisters and brothers I invite each and every one of you to be part of the healing of our world, and to recognize that we must be stewards of love and of peace,” Father Lopez said. “That if we ask for peace in the world, if we ask for a world where violence, gun violence and hate and killing stop, that we must be the first line of defense. We must go out into this world and meet negativity and hate with love.”