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Protect life… Ensure the safety of our school children!

Posted: February 20, 2018

One of our core values as Catholics has always been the sacredness of all life… Last week we witnessed another school shooting in Florida. In an instance the lives of children attending school, their classmates, teachers and families were changed forever by gun violence at the hands of a former student. It is difficult to take it all in … the scenes of children running from the school, eye witness accounts of children hiding in classrooms, listening to the sounds of gunfire in the hallway…           

This carnage is not a war scene in a far off land, but in a state that has captured our imagination with Disney World. These images could not be a more stark contrast. When my children were in elementary school our mornings were spent eating breakfast, packing lunches, double checking to make sure everyone had their permission slips, homework, bag packs and gym clothes.

Then we would pile in the car and I would drop them off at school. On their way out, I would always remind them to, “do their best work” and let them know that I loved them. These were the ordinary, and yet extraordinary fleeting moments of childhood. It never occurred to me that they would not be waiting for me outside of school at the end of the school day. My biggest worry was getting into the queue on time.

As I look back on my children’s childhoods, I miss the energy of a house filled with my children and their friends. There was never a moment that I worried that it would all be taken away…Yet this is the experience that parents are dealing with each day because of gun violence. The battles being waged in our schools are not related to war, but to gun violence. The effects will be similar to what people in war experience.

Parents will grapple with the loss of their beloved children. Siblings and friends will experience profound loss. There is no explanation for the violence against our nation’s children. This trauma and violence casts a wide net and impacts all of us. A neighbor who is a social worker in the Twin Cities described, “Lock downs” and “shooter drills” that are taking place at her school at our last Book Club. When I asked her to describe the, “shooter drills” she said that they have been told to “run, hide or attack”…

We said, “Your school is asking an unarmed woman and mother to run towards someone with an assault rifle who is shooting?” We were in disbelief and shock. One member of our book club was weeping because her husband is a principal at another school in the metro area. These stories are horrifying.

The answer to the violence rests with us, people of faith who are called to act on behalf of our children. We are called to speak for a, “culture of life”… We are asking each person to reach out to your elected officials to demand action on this issue. I will be going to the Capitol to meet with elected officials to urge them to act with other Catholic leaders. Writing and making phone calls matters too. Catholic leaders are mobilizing with people of faith across the nation. Join us to protect life!

--Maura Schnorbach