Bishop Fisher brings prayers to site of Tops shooting
Those who gathered at the Jefferson Avenue Tops on May 17, came looking for answers and understanding. What they found were like-minded people full of prayer. Residents of the East Side neighborhood as well as clergy prayed together with hearts still heavy from grief after the tragic shooting of 13 people inside the supermarket.
Bishop Michael W. Fisher wanted to pay his respects to the victims in a prayerful, peaceful way by being present to them.
“It was beautiful because he got to talk with the people. He got to talk with the first responders, the police department, the fire department,” said Cheryl Calire, director of Pastoral Ministries for the Diocese of Buffalo, who accompanied Bishop Fisher.
The bishop laid flowers along with a handwritten note “for the souls of our brothers and sisters lost to the acts of violence and racism,” adding to the growing memorial along Jefferson Avenue. “It was very heartfelt. He spoke of his disappointment of the obvious racism and hate crime that it was. He said this was an opportunity to come together and turn this around,” said Calire
The bishop waited until President Biden had left the area before he made his visit. Local and national media were still present and the bishop spoke with reporters from NBC and WIVB-TV.
Father Paul Seil, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Buffalo, was also there with Sister M. Johnice Rzadkiewicz, CSSF, executive director of the Response to Love Center. Father Seil, a chaplain for the Buffalo Fire Department, met with two deputy fire commissioners. They allowed the bishop to see their communication center and the Buffalo Police communication center set up in the parking lot.
Police officers led the bishop and Father Seil through part of the crime scene.
“We went to the parking lot. We were in the crime scene area of the shooting where I pointed out to the bishop the bullets in the window and where the bodies outside were found,” Father Seil said.
Bishop Fisher also spoke to the many leaders from other religious denominations who were present.
“It was a very good pastoral visit. People were coming up to him and asking him to pray for them,” Calire said. “It was so nice to see a shepherd in his element. That’s what he has been called to do. And he was on the street with the people bringing comfort just by his presence.”
Bishop Fisher will host “Do Not Let Your Hearts be Troubled,” an interfaith prayer service on Monday, May 23, beginning at 5 p.m. at St. Martin de Porres Church, 555 Northampton St., in Buffalo. Leaders from various faith communities will be invited to participate.