To the congregation of Emanuel AME Church
Charleston, South Carolina
Sunday, June 21, 2015
Dear Friends in Christ:
On behalf of the University of Notre Dame, I extend our deepest condolences to the faithful of Emanuel AME Church on the tragic deaths of your pastor, Rev. Clementa Pickney, and your fellow congregants. You welcomed a stranger into your midst to join you in prayer and reflection on the word of God. It is hard to find words to describe our shock and sadness in learning that it was precisely this one you welcomed as a brother who senselessly killed your pastor and your sisters and brothers. We struggle to comprehend that darkness.
And yet, however deeply dark that event, it was answered by the inspiring light of Nadine Collier, Alana Simmons and others in speaking words of forgiveness for the man accused of murdering their loved ones.
As we reflect on the darkness of the shooting and the light of your forgiveness, we see the death of Christ answered by the resurrection, the cross answered by the empty tomb on Easter Sunday. You have shown us the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection reflected in the lives of His faithful people. As we gather for prayer this Sunday, you will be at the heart of our prayers. We will ask that God give you some peace and consolation, but we will also pray in gratitude for the witness you have given everyone. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for that.
Alana, whose grandfather Rev. Daniel Simmons was killed, said, “Hate won’t win.” It will not, with faithful people like you. We stand with you in sadness but hope in the love of Christ.
Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C.