Newtown ministers struggle with massacre

Dec. 25, 2012 at 9:17 PM
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NEWTOWN, Conn., Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Clergy in Newtown, Conn., say they are emotionally burned out following more than a week of funerals for victims of a school massacre, most of them children.

Monsignor Robert Weiss of St. Rose of Lima Church conducted eight funerals, some for children he had baptized, the Hartford Courant reported.

William Calderara, a trustee at the church, said parishioners are doing what they can to support Weiss, including helping organize the services.

"Sometimes, it's just walking up and giving him a hug," Calderara said. "For anybody this is emotionally and physically draining and to go through that day after day."

The region's law enforcement community also has banded together to support Newtown police, CNN reported Tuesday. Sgt. Steve Santucci said all of the city's police officers and sworn personnel got Christmas Day off thanks to officers from surrounding towns who volunteered to patrol Newtown.

"When something like this happens ... it's a police thing," Lt. Bob Kozlowsky of the Shelton Police Department said. "We'll always try to help out neighboring towns. Any time there's a tragedy, we'll try our best to lend a helping hand.

"We've sent officers, dispatchers, and even our chief of police has gone to Newtown to help out. We've helped with dispatching, traffic, miscellaneous calls. Our chief of police has gone to assist their chief of police with administrative duties."

Police officers from Monroe, Brookfield, Danbury, Bethel and Milford also pitched in.

Brian Wallace, a spokesman for the diocese of Bridgeport, said priests have come from other Connecticut parishes and New York City to assist at services.

The Rev. Mark Moore of St. John's Episcopal Church -- which stands next to the Sandy Hook Elementary School, where Adam Lanza, 20, killed 20 children and six staff members -- said he has been getting help from a friend in Middletown, Conn., also a member of the clergy, who lost her son to homicide.

"She knows the horror, the grief," Moore said. "She's been a tremendous help. The question that people ask me I have to ask myself, 'Why did this happen?'"

Moore said he tells church members to look to God for strength but sometimes has trouble taking his own advice.

"It's overwhelming," he said. "I've often gone home and thrown up and had difficulty sleeping. I tried to listen to music to calm myself down."

The Rev. Rob Morris of Christ the King Lutheran Church said he has been so busy he has not had time to visit the impromptu memorial to the victims in Newtown. Morris, who conducted two of last week's funerals, said he gets strength from his wife and two children and from his congregation.

"I feel like I'm ministering to 100 or more and I've got 100 or more ministering to me," he said. "I like that ratio."

Lanza killed his mother and himself as well.

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