St. Rose of Lima Church as a beacon of faith amid tragedy - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

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St. Rose of Lima Church as a beacon of faith amid tragedy

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Monsignor Robert Weiss Monsignor Robert Weiss

The pain that was born by Newtown last December found comfort and solace in many of the faith communities.

The St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church appeared to be the epicenter of that faith and lost eight young lives.

Its pastor, Monsignor Robert Weiss, said their community focus now is on the healing, forgiveness and renewal.

"I hope the good that comes out of here is that we reclaim the respect that we need to have for every human being in this world," Weiss said.

Weiss said, better known as Father Bob at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, hopes the 26 people who lost their lives last year, including eight children of his parish, did not die in vain.

Eyewitness News asked Weiss how can some people conceive to do so much harm to so many innocent people.

"So I would say my faith if anything has been renewed, has been deepened somewhat by the faith I've witnessed especially in these families," Weiss said.

Weiss said his faith was "absolutely" tested after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"That was one of the first questions that was asked of me," Weiss said. "I think I'm so grounded in my faith at this point in my life that even though it might be tested and challenged and even though others might challenge, you know where is this coming from? I never really questioned it. I've always had a deep trust in the Lord. And when I realize the grace that I've been given through these days, I know that faith is strong, that faith is secure."

On that day, Weiss explained a parishioner in the parking lot pointed out a cloud formation, a cross, right over St. Rose School.

"Initially I saw it as a sign of protection and as time went on I began to realize that he also laid a burden on our community," Weiss said. "To be a sign to this world of the importance of faith, the importance of resiliency, the importance of continuing to try and keep people safe and happy."

But while tending to his flock during these trying days and months, Weiss confessed, he too has felt the burden.

"I think we are all on the emotional edge, certainly I don't have the answers. We don't have any answers as to why this happened or why these families have to be suffering so much or why our community was so tested or challenged, whatever word we choose to use but you know certainly it is a burden," Weiss said. " Not because I can't function. It's just what are the right words to say? Are there any right words to say? I think just being present, just trying to be a man of faith, trying to encourage people, its going to take a long time to move ahead."

In moving ahead, beyond the anniversary and during the memorial mass, Weiss said his message that day will include, forgiveness.

"We can't love unless we learn how to forgive. That's a difficult experience for many people not just about this tragedy but just about many of the relationships that people have with each other you know," Weiss said. "I think a lot of the focus will be on healing, on forgiveness, on renewal, on continuing to work together to stand in solidarity with each other to be respectful of each other. I'm sure those are the themes we will be embracing that day."

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