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Thursday, August 11, 2022
The independent student publication of The Unversity at Buffalo, since 1950

"Spiritual Community Offers Prayer, Support"

Tolling bells and organ music punctuated the silent solemnity of St. Joseph's Church on Main Street Tuesday night as students, faculty, administrators and community members gathered to mourn and pray for the victims of Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

As news of the escalating casualties reached UB, and television cameras transmitted eyewitness accounts of the horrific scenes in New York City and the Capitol to the outwardly peaceful university, campus ministers scrambled to provide needed emotional and spiritual support to students affected by the tragedy.

"We've all been summoned to be of help to people, and especially those students from New York City," said Monsignor Patrick Keleher of the Newman Center, the Catholic ministry on campus.

Representatives from all the campus ministries were called by the Office of Student Affairs to join counselors in supplying support services to students in need throughout the day.

"We're all praying," said Father Keleher, who was moved to tears this morning shortly after hearing the news, "That's all we can do. We've never been in this position before."

Rabbi Avrohom Gurary of the Chabad Jewish Student Center spent much of the day in the Student Union, providing support and encouragement for students seeking guidance.

"It's devastating. ... There's no words to describe it," said Gurary.

"Students are coming to pray for their families who might be in critical condition," he said, referring to those visiting him in the union.

Representatives of the UB Muslim community also expressed their condolences for the victims.

"I felt an immediate reaction," said Abdul Sallaj, vice president of the Organization of Arab Students, "I first thought of the victims. I really didn't want to come to school. When I saw the World Trade Center collapse [on TV], I felt like collapsing myself."

"I'd like to show my deepest sympathies and regrets to those affected by this tragedy," Sallaj continued. "This affects everyone here now."

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Both Sallaj and Khurram Khan, president of the Muslim Student Association, vehemently condemned the violence, particularly in wake of news reports suggesting the involvement of Islamic fundamentalist groups in Tuesday's attacks.

"Extremists are never representative of a population," Sallaj said.

"It's pretty obvious this is a deliberate attempt to send a message to the government. But as a Muslim, this is the most inhumane, anti-Muslim way to go about it," he continued. "These people have no regard for human life."

Khan urged students to separate facts from conjecture - a line often blurred in the rush to announce news.

"At this point, it's better not to speculate and really separate ourselves from rumors," Khan said.

"After these next couple of days of mourning, we're going to have to deconstruct notions of ignorance," Khan said, referring to the potential for backlash if an Islamic fundamentalist is indeed linked to the attacks.

"The members of our organization are always open for people to come to us for support or anything they need," he added.

Continuing support was offered at Tuesday night's vigil at St. Joseph's Church, adjacent to South Campus, a collaborative effort on the part of Campus Ministries, the umbrella organization of religious services at UB. Rabbi Shay Mintz from Hillel and Father Keleher were among those speaking at the vigil.

UB President Greiner opened the vigil with "The Prayer of Trust in God." The prayer's words offered hope and encouragement to those currently suffering and in the midst of tragedy: "shelter me from danger" while "terror is all around me," fitting words for those viewing the country's wreckage.

Those attending the vigil held candles and prayed for the victims of the crisis, their loved ones, our political leaders and the university, particularly students still trying to grasp the implications of yesterday's violence. Many individuals in the church were moved to tears, while the faces of others portrayed silent reverence, fear, sadness and regret.

The vigil concluded with Mother Theresa's "Prayer for Peace," and the uplifting gospel hymn "Amazing Grace," played on the bagpipes. At the end of the vigil, attendees were asked to sign the names of friends and family members impacted by the attacks in a memorial book.

Today, Campus Ministries will hold a memorial service on the seal of the Student Union at 1 p.m.



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