Faiths unite to mourn shooting victims

Barb Arland-Fye
Bishop Thomas Zinkula, top, speaks at an interfaith prayer vigil March 17 at the Islamic Center of the Quad Cities in Moline, Ill. The bottom photo shows some of the 400 people of different faiths who participated in the vigil.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

MOLINE, Ill. — Four-hundred people of different faiths filled the lower level of a Quad-City mosque to pray for 50 people, including young children, killed March 15 in an attack against two mosques in New Zealand.

“When will enough be enough?” asked Imam Abdul Hamid at the Islamic Center of the Quad Cities in Moline, where the prayer vigil was held March 17. Hamid, an imam candidate at the mosque, emphasized the need to get to the root cause of the hatred ideology that is spreading like cancer. He asked all in the room to think about how to become “agents of change.”

The imam was one of several religious leaders who spoke at the prayer vigil. Bishop Thomas Zinkula attended the vigil on behalf of the Diocese of Davenport and was asked to share some words with the gathering as well. He told them that he had recently returned from a trip to India where he presented the interfaith Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award to the Dalai Lama. “I was representing all of you,” he told the audience, which included members of the Pacem in Terris Coalition of the Quad Cities.


Bishop Zinkula recalled how the Dalai Lama, a world renowned peacemaker, reacted approvingly when the bishop identified religious faiths serving on the coalition — Jews, Muslims and Christians among them. The bishop shared that the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists talked about all human beings having one Father, one God, and that all are brothers and sisters. The Dalai Lama said, “We need to treat each other with love and respect,” the bishop said. “I agree that love is the answer.”

Speaker after speaker echoed that message of oneness and the need to treat one another with love, respect and kindness. “Our hearts beat as one,” said the Rev. Richard Priggie, campus chaplain at Augustana College in Rock Island. He prayed for all to believe and trust in God and for the grace to bring all people together so that the violence may end.

“When will the world finally know that we are all created in the image of God?” asked Rabbi Linda Bertenthal of Temple Emanuel in Davenport. “I commit myself to pursuing peace with all of you.”

Five-year-olds from the mosque’s religious education program sang a song identifying the five pillars of Islam: Faith (belief in God); prayer (five times daily); giving (support of the needy); fasting the month of Ramadan (gaining true sympathy with those who go hungry); and pilgrimage to Makkah (once in a lifetime, for those who are physically and financially able to perform it).

Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB, shared a Benedictine prayer from her religious community based in Rock Island, Ill. Rabbi Jeffrey Lipschultz of Tri-City Jewish Center in Rock Island prayed for an end to hatred and gun violence and asked God to “let our fears give way to hope.”

Lisa Killinger, president of the Muslim Community of the Quad-Cities in Bettendorf, quoted civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who was gunned down in his prime: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“We need to bring the light to others and to bring the goodness and love to others” Killinger told the gathering, and “to teach what Islam teaches: to feed the hungry, visit the sick, comfort those who are alone … we need to be out in society doing good things.”

She quoted a passage from the Koran, the sacred book of Islam: “Vie with each other in doing good deeds.”

Rabbi Henry Karp, speaking on behalf of One Human Family, said it is good to gather and pray, but, he asked, “What happens when the gathering walks out the doors? “We need to actively work to heal the hate, to heal the world. “Oh Holy One,” he prayed, “Help us to heal our hearts and to heal our world so that the disease of hate is banished from it.”

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