SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – Close to 50 members of the Sleepy Hollow community gathered Friday evening in front of Village Hall for a candlelight vigil in memory of the victims of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The vigil took place exactly one week after a lone gunman murdered his mother, then shot his way into the school and fatally shot 20 children and six adults before taking his own life.
“We are gathered here tonight to show our empathy, our sympathy, our compassion, and our solidarity for the residents of Newtown, Conn., and especially for the families whose children were in Sandy Hook Elementary School,” said Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray to the subdued crowd of nearly 50.
After the opening remarks, Monsignor Louis J. Mazza from Immaculate Conception Church opened the vigil with a prayer.
“Heavenly Father, we ask your blessings upon us as we gather on this night remembering the slaughter of the innocents,” prayed Mazza. “The slaughter of 20 little children and six adults killed by the violence. We pray that, by our prayers somehow, some way, there may come a new system of caring and loving wherein all are protected from harm and unnecessary slaughter.”
The crowd remained respectful and silent throughout the vigil, protecting their candles from the biting wind and listening intently to a moving sermon from the Rev. Mark Santiago from Rock of Salvation Church, who characterized the shooting as a “senseless act of evil.” He expressed the hope that all of the soul-searching our country does in the days to come over this event “be done in love.”
“Love is patient, love is kind,” he said, quoting First Corinthians. “It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It isn't easily angered. It keeps record of no wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Sleepy Hollow High Junior Paloma Gratereaux led the gathering in a heartfelt rendition of "Amazing Grace," her pure, clear voice joined in song by nearly all in attendance before she was half-way through the first verse.
The vigil closed with Capt. Lawrence Lee of Union Hose Company No. 2 ringing the bell in front of the Village Hall 26 times, once for each victim lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School that day.