TULALIP – Archbishop J. Peter Sartain walked through the door of St. Anne Mission Church and hugged Don Hatch, a parishioner whose grandson was wounded in the Oct. 24 shootings at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. Four students have died and two remain hospitalized.
Outside the church on the Tulalip Indian reservation, rain poured down, a sober reminder of the pain inside.
“We bring healing to the community,” the archbishop said during an Oct. 31 prayer service in support of those affected by the school shootings. “The cross of Christ is a reminder we’re in the arms of the Lord Jesus and are all embraced by his love,” he said.
Hatch, a longtime leader of the Tulalip Tribes, said his 14-year-old grandson, Nate Hatch, is recovering at Harborview Medical Center, but his emotional injuries may be harder to overcome. “He gets angry. He doesn’t know why his cousin (the shooter, Jaylen Fryberg) did that to anyone,” Hatch said. “They all went to [homecoming] and were all good buddies. They just loved each other. I worry about what will happen to him” when he is released from the hospital, Hatch added.
Earlier in the day, Archbishop Sartain said Mass at St. Mary Church in Marysville, where students, families and parishioners filled the pews.
“My thoughts and prayers are here with Marysville and the Tulalip Tribe and students touched by the tragedy,” the archbishop said. “In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll join with thousands of years of people who turn to God to make sense of something that seems to have no sense at all.” He prayed for the victims and families, asking God “to give everyone peace, hope and consolation.”
Toni Gamalinda, a ninth-grader at Marysville Getchell High School, said she was comforted by her friends at her parish church, where she could let her emotions go. Since kindergarten, she had known Gia Soriano, who died of her gunshot injuries Oct. 26. “I just can’t believe she’s gone. I thought she would survive,” Gamalinda said. “At least she’s in a better place.”
Another parishioner, Marysville-Pilchuck senior Nicholas Alonson, said he played football with Jaylen Fryberg, the freshman who shot five students in the school cafeteria before taking his own life. Nobody envisioned the shootings, Alonson said. Being in church Friday “makes me thankful and helps me count my blessings each day,” he said.
Many students at the Mass wore the black T-shirts saying “#MPstrong” that were handed out at their high school that day. Many said it will be hard to return to school Nov. 3.
Chris Correa, a junior at Marysville-Pilchuck, found comfort at the church gathering. “This Mass was uplifting,” he said. “It reminds us we’re here as a community.”