Archive: At Bertrand, prayers for peace
Rosana Balmer, in the red dress, embraces her close friend Cheryl Ronchetti at the prayer vigil Thursday at Bertrand Products in South Bend, where Balmer's husband, Craig Schafer, and three other employees were killed. (South Bend Tribune/DAVE WITHAM)
On Thursday, they prayed for peace.
Sister Pauline Bridegroom asked God for "the evil to be driven from this building."
Yet another woman offered prayers for the ongoing violence in Israel, in other parts of the globe and in "the murders that are still occurring in this town."
About 80 family members, friends, clergy and public officials gathered for the On-Site Prayer Ministry's vigil at the company.
It was windy, as it was three weeks ago when William Lockey killed co-workers John Contadeluci, 47, David Arpasi, 73, Robert Downs Jr., 42, and Craig Schafer, 50, and then killed himself.
This time, the unforgiving cold had given way to warmth. The grass had gone from snow-covered to green, ready to grow.
Casey Downs, who is Downs' 16-year-old daughter, said events like this help to take the grief day by day, minute by minute.
"No matter how many 'I'm sorries' you get, it still doesn't bring the person back," Casey said.
Family gives her strength as she continues with the rites of youth, like the prom she still plans to attend.
She was among several who wore "Bob buttons" that her mom had made, featuring a photo of their loved one.
Val June Schafer, mother of Craig Schafer, wore a round photo of her son and a small, red wooden heart labeled with the date "3-22-02," the date of the shooting. Events like this give the families a chance to keep offering each other support, she said. Her heart goes out to Lockey's family. Though she hasn't spoken with them, she said, they must be going through double grief.
"They not only have to live with the loss of a loved one but the guilt that he killed someone," she said.
As he led the service, the Rev. Steven P. Brey of South Bend's Epworth Memorial United Methodist Church read the Lockey family's statement of grief for the community, which had been printed in The Tribune shortly after the shootings.
Brey pondered the questions of how and why the violence occurred.
"There is something about evil that is inherently irrational," he said.
How can loved ones move on? Brey offered the image of Jesus dying on the cross: "When we suffer, God suffers. And when we die, God is crucified."
"We gather to pray for an end to violence on this ground that was made unholy by the deaths," said the Rev. Charles Lavely, a Catholic priest. "We pray that it may become holy again. ... In (Saint) Francis, we pray that we may be instruments of your peace."
Staff writer Joseph Dits: