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Candlelight Vigil in New Providence Mourns Victims of Las Vegas Mass Shooting


Residents, religious leaders, Mayor Al Morgan and members of the diversity groups of New Providence and Berkeley Heights came together on the lawn of Our Lady of Peace in New Providence for a candlelight vigil on Friday evening to share prayer, poems, words of reflection and to mourn the 58 victims of Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas. It was one of several such events held in Union County.


The vigil was organized by Rupa Kale, Stacy Gunderman and the Interfaith Council of New Providence and Berkeley Heights. Among the participants were New Providence Mayor Al Morgan, Pastor Debra Whitten of Union Village, Wendy Naratil of Faith Lutheran Church, Dr. M. Ali Chaudry, Imam of The Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, and Christine Morgan for the Diversity Committee of New Providence.


The sound of acoustic guitar welcomed the crowd that gathered to grieve in the time of darkness to begin the healing process.


Mayor Al Morgan thanked Father Bill of Our Lady of Peace for the use of the church lawn for the vigil. He expressed the importance of the police department, EMS, Fire Department and Emergency Management team during times of tragedy. "I hope and pray that things like this don't happen again," said Morgan. "It's a sad state of affairs -- things like this are happening all over the entire world."


Vigil organizer Stacy Gunderman recited names of the victims. The victims ranged from age 20 to 60. "These names are familiar to us, as we can picture the people they were -- mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandparents and grandchildren," said Gunderman. --- "Tonight we gather to mourn their loss. We gather to pray for the healing for the ones they left behind. -- We gather to say, enough."


Reverend Debra Whitten provided prayer that continued with a message of "enough."


"We must rush out to help to bring world peace," said Whitten. "When we say enough -- others will join us and chant enough. until enough is done and your peace is realized."


Dr. M. Ali Chaudry prayed for people to go out and enjoy normal activities of family, friends and neighbors without fear. "Guide our nation to address the root causes of this kind of violence. There are solutions. You can bring us to those solutions. We pray that you guide the leadership of this nation, political leaders at every level, they take all the steps they can to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again."


Christine Morgan recited the poem “An Essential Journey Back into Light” written by Nicolas Cable and Rupa Kale spoke of the Hindu mantra of peace.


Jamie Peterson rang a hand bell 58 times for each victim of the mass shooting. The evening concluded as it begun with the sound of acoustic guitar and the singing of "This Little Light of Mine."


Gunderman reminded the crowd that after the candles are extinguished to continue to wear the orange ribbon to take a stand against gun violance. "[The] lives lost in Las Vegas, the ribbon reminds us to take action and honor their memories by preventing future tragedies."


"There is something we can do to prevent these tragedies from happening again. when we each commit to making a difference to prevent even one life from being lost, it makes all the difference to that one," she said.


Originally published in TAPinto Berkeley Heights, October 8, 2017

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