This morning, President Fr. David Ciancimino, S.J., spoke to our community.
"Today our thoughts and our hearts are with the victims, their families and our entire Buffalo community following Saturday’s unspeakable acts of violence and hate. It is difficult for me to fathom that a person would commit a racially motivated mass shooting in our community ... and drive three hours to do so.
"We are all grieving from the immeasurable loss in our community. Words can fail as we try to express our sadness and anger.
"As I sat in my office reflecting about what I might say to you this morning, Mr. Woods from our staff stepped in to tell me that he lost a good friend in Mr. Aaron Salter – the retired police officer and security person on duty – who was murdered at Tops. I asked Mr. Woods, 'What do you say at a time like this ... ?' And he talked about our hearts.
"Whenever someone acts from a place of racial hatred and violence, the person is trying to strike fear and division into our hearts, into our community. Sure, we should feel a righteous anger about this – an anger that is born of the senseless racial violence that has visited our city. But we must do our best to resist giving the perpetrator of such hatred, of this violence, the power to harden or change our hearts.
"Our city, our neighbors, our families, we're all hurting. But we cannot surrender our hearts. Your hearts are good, loving and open.
"The sheriff said, 'There was no room for hatred in our community. We are one Buffalo.' Amen, I say to that, and I would add that we are one Canisius High School.
"My friends, let us make sure that the murderer fails in his mission. Let us make sure that we do not give him the power to change our hearts (except to make them more loving) – or to divide our city. Now is a time for greater unity, and to continue to strengthen and form bonds across bridges of race, ethnicity, faith and culture.
"Let us stand with all those who fall victim to racism, violence and hatred. Let us condemn racism in all its forms. Let us stand now with our community and the victims of this tragedy, which has found its way to our doorsteps. Now is the time to be one Buffalo, one Canisius High School. To be united. To stand stronger. Together.
"Now let us pray: God ever-faithful and true, we come before you asking your Spirit to rest on our city – a Spirit of love and unity; a Spirit of healing and reconciliation; a spirit of justice and peace. For those who have died, we pray you will receive them into your embrace. For those who mourn, give the grace of consolation promised them. For the wounded, bring restoration and fullness of life. For ourselves, strength and courage, and the desire to build your Kingdom – right here and now, in our time – for your greater glory. Together.
"We make this prayer in your Good and Holy Name. Amen. St. Peter Canisius, pray for us."
Students have been encouraged to speak with their counselors, who will be available all day.