'Service of cleansing' at Tucson shooting site

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Gathering at the site of the Jan. 8 mass shooting outside a Tucson Safeway, a group of community faith leaders performed "a service of cleansing and healing" Jan. 20, sprinkling the area with blessed water "to reverence and reclaim the space."

Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, one of eight who spoke briefly and offered prayers, noted how faith leaders responded to tragedy in other communities, such as the 9/11 attack, the Columbine High School shootings and the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

When the Tucson faith leaders met to pray together, Bishop Kicanas said, they reflected on how other communities responded in solidarity "to offer consolation and healing" and they decided to visit the site of the Tucson tragedy together to pray.

It was a bright sunny day, an observer noted, very much like the day the gunman struck. The prayer service was unannounced to the public, to minimize disruption to the shopping center, which was shut down for several days for the investigation.

For victims of Tucson shooting, a Mass of remembrance

TUCSON, Ariz. -- President Barack Obama and members of his Cabinet and Congress attended a large memorial service here yesterday at the University of Arizona's basketball arena, held for the victims of the Jan. 8 shooting spree.

But, a day before the president's arrival, more than 800 people filled St. Odilia Church and its nearby parish hall Tuesday for the first of the formal religious services to memorialize the victims.

Roxanna Green, the mother of slain 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, a member of the parish, looked on as Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas spoke at a special Mass to heal the community, remember those who died and console the victims and their families.

Many of the people who attended were St. Odilia's parishioners, but others had no connection to the church. Law enforcement officers, many in civilian clothes, could be seen throughout the congregation.

The opening song, "Amazing Grace," was led by the parish children's choir, of which Christina was an enthusiastic member.

Tucson bishop: All are stakeholders in health reform

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas said Aug. 31 that the "complexity of the proposals" for national health care reform has caused "a great deal of misunderstanding and fear" and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona should fight to "simplify and clarify" the issues.

The bishop spoke publicly after joining with 20 southern Arizona faith leaders for a private 90-minute meeting with Giffords.