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Reaching Out To All

To the Editor:

On 12/16 at the Newtown memorial service, in the presence of the families of our loving children/teachers/administrators, with President Obama, Gov Malloy and our very own beloved selectwoman, Patricia Llodra, our local clergy men and women ascended the stage arm in arm, to offer prayers and reflections on behalf of the gallant “first responders” to the 12/14 tragedy …and for multiple services within the Newtown community. My prayer addressed the caregivers, counselors and clergy of the area.

At that service, Pat Llodra uttered, what I have come to consider, a prophetic statement: “This was a defining event for Newtown: but it does not define Newtown.” How true were Pat’s words! We soon witnessed an expansive caregiver and counselors’ network unfolding to reach out and meet the multiple and diverse needs of the community.

In no way would this event define or limit Newtown’s vision. Artists-musicians-singers-business people-fire and safety and health personnel, government workers and teachers-civic volunteers and support staff-school administrators and multiple individuals came forward to help define what Newtown was all about.

My third charge that evening was to lift up my new-found brothers and sisters of the clergy.  Their response has been phenomenal: on every week, some type of gathering to discuss ongoing plans has taken place. Inspirational speakers at Newtown Congregational Church and Adath Israel Synagogue where four Buddhists guided us through their vision of dealing with pain and suffering; workshop Leaders taught us. On the first Sunday of each month, we met at Trinity (site of the Lighthouse) and Newtown United Methodist Church – just to pray and reflect . El Hedaya – our Islamic Society sponsored a workshop at Edmond Town Hall “Trials, Tribulations and Tragedy: Grace Sustains.” Three Christians – a Baha’i leader –a rabbi – each participated and spoke. The North American Islamic Community – one week later- held their convention at the Hartford Civic Center and four of us participated. It seems as if Newtown’s manner of reaching out and including all of its citizens has given witness to the country and to the world that we are compassionate to all. Such really defines Newtown. Thanks, Pat.

 A large gathering was sponsored by WCSU and witnessed five panels – responding to the theme: “Creativity and Compassion” Government-Spirituality-Business-Health-Education… and, once again, a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim and  a Buddhist shared ideas.

Newtown Congregational Church hosted a three-hour program with beautiful and uplifting music of all types– poetic reflections, artists and speakers to the theme: “Within Our Reach” and that we are – within reach of healing. If we love one another, seeking creative passionate ways to bring compassion, reaching out to all, our one God will make it happen. God will heal us. We are within reach. And finally, at the six-month anniversary of 12/14, another gathering of the town folk and the clergy – together – giving thanks and praying for the heart of Newtown.

May our One God’s Peace Be with You!

Rev. Leo McIlrath

Ecumenical Chaplain

The Lutheran Home of Southbury

990 Main Street North, Southbury   June 18, 2013

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