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Churchgoers turn to Bible for comfort

By Pat Gilliland

April 20, 1995

No time is acceptable for tragedy, and no place should be a home for violence, a Catholic priest reminded parishioners Wednesday night.

But in the aftermath of tragic violence that ravaged a downtown Oklahoma City federal building Wednesday morning, the Rev. Thomas Boyer urged more than 100 worshipers at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help to turn to the Gospel and presence of Christ for comfort and hope.

Boyer compared stunned Oklahoma City residents to Jesus' disciples after the crucifixion.

"Like them, we sit down tonight, and beg the Lord, our companion, to stay with us. To remain in this city, to guide and protect us. ... To lead us through this trial of darkness and suffering. To keep us free from the sin of hatred, and heal us by the comfort of his presence," Boyer said.

He said that after feeling the force of the explosion Wednesday morning, he went immediately to Presbyterian Hospital to help.

"My job really was mostly happy. I got to do the nice things - reuniting people," Boyer said. He said two children from his parish were in the areas of damage, but neither was injured.

During Mass, Boyer said even those who have questions with no answers - such as why did this happen to children and why 1 in Oklahoma City - can find comfort, healing and peace through their faith and Christ's example of love, life, suffering and resurrection.

In a service at another church Wednesday, Jeff Gardner said he felt helpless, like many who watched the horrific television pictures coming from downtown Wednesday.

"I wanted to be down there, to try to be of service to people," the Del City Church of Christ pulpit minister said following the congregation's midweek assembly. "But they were saying on television to stay away. I was really torn, wishing I could be there to help. "

Most of the 150 or so people who attended the somber service seemed to be of the same mind. The congregation canceled its usual class sessions, choosing to focus on how to deal with the feelings of grief and anger which have surfaced since the massive bomb explosion.

"Anger is very much a part of reaction to loss," said Hank Henderson, the congregation's minister of congregational care.

"It's important that we properly process that grief. "

Members were asked to name those who they knew were victims, either directly or indirectly, of the explosion. Those names were written on a board, and prayers were offered for those people.

Also, several members spoke about their "close-call" stories - how loved ones managed to escape injury or death in the terrorist blast.

Staff writer Murray Evans contributed to this report.


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