Lafayette church's first mass after shooting draws huge crowd

Source: James Sparvero/WAFB
Source: James Sparvero/WAFB

LAFAYETTE, LA (WAFB) - Sunday mass at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Lafayette was the first following Thursday's deadly shootings at the Grand Theatre.

In the pews, a tight-knit group of Cajun people came to move forward, one day and one prayer at a time.

"We begin our discussion with the obvious. Where are you God? Come on, God, where are you," Father Michael Russo said to churchgoers.

Father Russo says even in times of tragedy, God is still with us, comforting all, because through evil, new love is created.

"I was in the teacher who threw herself on her friend, probably saving her friend's life and allowing that friend, also a teacher, to pull the fire alarm to alert others of danger," said Russo.  "I was in all those acts of heroic love that proved to the world that what is good, and what is true, and what is beautiful still dwells among us."

Father Russo spoke of 33-year-old Jillian Johnson, a Lafayette small businesswoman, and 21-year-old Mayci Breaux, an LSU Eunice student.

Police say both young women were shot and killed in Thursday's attack.

Outside Our Lady of Fatima Church now lies flowers and balloons.  It's a memorial in a small town where some never thought anything as horrible as this could happen.

"It's surreal, it's absolutely surreal that this has happened in our community. You really do always think, not my community, not my town," said Cydra Wingerter, Assistant to the Lafayette City-Parish President

In response to the shooting, Wingerter says a Lafayette family center is now offering counseling services.

The family center opened Sunday on Lee Avenue in Lafayette.

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