UVALDE, Texas — On Tuesday, an hour after learning that 19 children had been killed at Robb Elementary School, parishioners of Sacred Heart Catholic Church gathered for an impromptu Mass. Many of them returned the next evening for another Mass and then the evening after that for another — a community in shock, staggering together through a haze of sadness, confusion and anger.
On Saturday, the congregation assembled again, this time for the first regular weekend service at Sacred Heart. But now, some parishioners said, that haze was fading. The depth of Uvalde’s loss was becoming agonizingly clear. Such was the case across Uvalde this weekend as church services marked the start of days of mourning. A series of funerals is scheduled in the days ahead, including several at Sacred Heart. A large vigil is also taking place at the church on Saturday night.
In his sermon, the Rev. Eduardo Morales, the pastor at Sacred Heart, encouraged the congregation to follow the example established by Jesus’ closest followers after his death. He noted that, as Catholics, they were celebrating the ascension into heaven of Jesus.
“Yes, we will miss them,” he told the congregation. But he encouraged the parishioners to remember that those who had died were not completely gone. “The time will come when we, too, will come to Jesus, and it won’t only be Jesus there,” Father Morales said. “Maybe death — we should not see it as a leap into darkness but a leap into light.”
As the community navigated its sorrow, he urged the congregation to be supportive and loving, and to embrace the memory of those who were lost.
“Allow their love, their spiritual presence, to continue to be with us,” Father Morales said. “When we don’t believe, that is when they truly die, and that’s not fair to them. Allow them to continue to live among us, allow them to continue to be part of us.”