Pope Francis shares message with local church following mass shooting

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ODESSA, Tx. (KOSA) -- It’s been 12 days since the horrible mass shooting spree from Midland to Odessa killed seven and injured more than a dozen others.

(Photo: Long Thiên)

Prayers continue to pour in supporting the victims, survivors and all of West Texas.

Now the Pope of the Holy Roman Catholic Church is adding his own blessing.

Thursday morning, leaders at St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton Church opened their computers to read a prayer sent all the way from the Vatican by Pope Francis.

Pastor Mark Woodruff said he’d never read a message anything like this before.

The message reads:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

After the tragic shooting in and near Odessa, Pope Francis sent us a personal message of prayer and consolation. Here is that message...

"His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the shooting near Midland and Odessa, and he asks you to assure all those affected by this tragedy of his spiritual closeness. He joins the entire community in praying for the eternal rest of those who died and the healing of those wounded. To all he sends his blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the Lord."

Kind words needed now more than ever.

Assistant Pastor Timothy Hayter said the congregation was stunned the morning after the shooting.

“You can just see how people are distraught,” Woodruff said. “You can see that just kind of the shock and the sorrow in people’s faces and people that would normally reach out and shake your hand are giving you a hug saying like I’m glad to see you, I’m glad you’re alive kind of thing.”

Like many throughout the city, St. Elizabeth’s was affected by the shooting.

Woodruff said one member of the congregation trained Mary Granados at the postal service and became close friends with her before police say the gunman killed her and stole her postal van.

Woodruff says the pope’s message can hopefully serve as spiritual reassurance for people still coming to terms with the sudden losses.

“I think it’ll show some people that they’re not abandoned. Some in the grieving process might really feel abandoned and I think the pope just wanted to show us we’re not abandoned. There are others that are praying for us.”

Others all around the world, giving consolation and strength.

Church leaders said they’re also working on a big memorial project to honor all of the people who were affected by the shooting.