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Huntington clergy hold vigil in honor of Sandy Hook tragedy


HuntingtonCandlelightvi
From left, Legislator Doc Spencer, Rev. Allen Shin of St. John’s Episcopal Church of Huntington, Supervisor Frank Petrone, Rev. Steve Donnelly of the Church of St. Patrick’s in Huntington and Angelica Cubides attend the candlelight vigil at Huntington Town Hall. Photos from AJ Carter

December 28, 2012 | 04:56 PM
Though the tragedy of Newtown, Conn. took place hundreds of miles away, dozens of people came to Huntington Town Hall last Thursday evening for a candlelight vigil of healing in honor of the 20 children and seven adults who died in the Dec. 14 shooting rampage.

Having personally visited Newtown last weekend, Carlos Rodriguez and Greg Packer, both Huntington residents, felt they had to be at a local ceremony.

Saying that he believed in the unity of brotherhood, Rodriguez said, "In support of the tragedy, bringing people together is really important. Sending love to the loved ones who lost their family members in Newtown is important. Huntington's a great community and I think that us uniting speaks volumes."

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Cherie Lehmann, an elementary school music teacher and Kings Park resident sang “Angel’s Wings” at the candlelight vigil at Huntington Town Hall.
For his part, Packer went to Newtown and to Town Hall to extend his sympathies to the people of Newtown.

Saying the tragedy is unimaginable and all communities should come together, Supervisor Frank Petrone said, "It isn't miles that set us apart. It isn't the Long Island Sound that sets us apart. We could join hands and lift each other up by just doing this."

Petrone read a letter from Rev. Mark Moore of St. John's Episcopal Church in Sandy Hook, Conn., who said the incredible outpouring of support and prayer from people from around the world is a sign that goodness and the love of God are greater than the power of evil that descended on his town.

"To these, you now add your own prayers, love and compassion. We are more grateful than you can imagine," Moore wrote.

Michael Raspatini, a native of Huntington, coordinated the event with town officials after visiting Newtown, returning with a mission to heal his own community and the nation at large.

One by one, clergy from local Huntington parishes offered words of comfort and prayer.

"Our hearts are breaking, oh God, as our nation has buried innocent children and brave teachers," said Rabbi Neil Kurshan of Huntington Jewish Center.

"Turn our helplessness into action," Kurshan said. "Teach us to believe that we can rise up from this tragedy with a renewed faith in the goodness of our society. Shield us from indifference and from our tendency to forget."

Here is an excerpt from Cherie Lehmann's song, Angel's Wings:

Every night sing me a lullaby, and when you do, try not to cry.

For God gave me little angel's wings, so I could fly close by when you sing.

I'm with my friends, I'm happy here. Please don't worry and do not fear,

For God gave me little angel's wings, so I could fly close by when you sing.


Though he didn't have answers to the tragedy, Rev. Allen Shin of St. John's Episcopal Church in Huntington said he could offer his personal prayer and asked for God's forgiveness for not being able to protect the children.

People often ask why God would permit such a horrific event, said Rev. Stephen Donnelly of the Church of St. Patrick in Huntington. "We can turn to our God of love and know that God is with us and God is with those children. And most importantly, those children are home with God."

Soon after hearing about the shootings, Cherie Lehmann, an elementary school music teacher in the Sachem Central School District, said she felt compelled to write a song, which she sang at the vigil.

"I don't want anything out of it except to bring comfort to people," the Kings Park resident said.

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