Students pray for peace

As a result of the March 11 shooting involving football player Cory
Mitchell, St. John’s University has put its best foot forward to correct
any emotional scars the incident might have caused.

On Friday afternoon approximately 130 students, faculty and staff
gathered at Our Lady of Lourdes chapel to participate in a prayer
service against violence.

“All of us, in some form or another, are victims,” said the Rev. James
Maher, C.M. who presided over the Mass. “In some way violence has come
into our community and, like it or not, has affected us and changed us.”

Maher pointed out the importance of keeping one’s faith during this
trying time. “Even though violence has come into our community, we have
to have the faith to be able to trust that God will pull us through.”

Maher referred to the story of Joseph being sold to the Egyptians by his
brothers and compared it to the current situation at St. John’s.
“Although an outsider had come into our community and caused great harm,
we say, like Joseph, God will make good of it.”

The meeting was a who’s who of the St. John’s Athletic Department as
coaches and players from various teams attended the service. “I saw it
[the service] as a positive healing tool for the community,” said Bob
Ricca, head coach of the St. John’s football.

Campus ministers were present in cafeterias around campus offering
comfort throughout the week. The Counseling Center did its part by
alleviating any concerns and answering questions that students have.

Counselors at the center were notified within the hour after the
shooting occurred Sunday morning, said Dot Schmitt, assistant to the
director at the center.

“We were available the next day for anyone that wanted to talk
immediately,” Schmitt said. “We’re on call. God forbid, if any crisis
comes up, we see those cases first.”

The center has put an emphasis on programs such as anger management,
conflict resolution and violence in relationships since the shooting.
These programs have been offered throughout the year.

“It’s not like we’re offering this for the first time,” Schmitt said.
“We want to get the word out [about the programs], but not by what

So far Schmitt and other counselors at the center have consoled more
than a handful of students since last Sunday night. Most students have
voiced the same concern about the incident.

“It’s been just feeling bad about what’s happened,” Schmitt said adding
that everything is kept confidential.

The center is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Counselors can
be reached by cell phone and that number can be obtained from Residence
Life for use by resident students. For students seeking counsel, an
appointment can be made in Marillac Hall, Room 130.