By Liz Sullivan
Students from across the Diocese of San Jose gathered for an anniversary no one would want to commemorate, yet would irresponsible to forget.
On March 14, the one month anniversary since a former student fatally shot 17 students and staff at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., students here and across the nation gathered for the National School Walkout in a statement against gun violence.
At Archbishop Mitty High School, Bishop Patrick J. McGrath joined faculty, staff and more than 1,700 students in the gymnasium to remember those who were lost a month ago. Mitty staff and students held a photo of each of the victims and a statement was read; each began with the phrase, “I speak today for those who cannot speak.”
During his reflection the Bishop seemed visibly moved.
“There is absolutely no place I would rather be than to stand here in solidarity with you as you stand in solidarity with young people across our nation, and perhaps around the world,” said the Bishop, his voice cracking with emotion. “Today, your voices are being heard as never before. Your calls for sanity reverberate throughout the halls of power. Today, your outrage is shared by others, and you are our teachers. Prayer, of course, is good.
Likewise, Education is good. And Solidarity, too, is good. But we need also to act. To demand change. To protect the lives of innocents. My generation, your grandparent and your parents’ generations have failed. You may be the last chance for real change. You have something to say, and you must.”
Two of the seniors at Mitty who spoke were seniors Clare Nguyen and Nickhil Tekwani.
“The passion of the students in Parkland afterwards reached all the way to us (at Mitty),” said Tekwani. “The first step that they took was very powerful. They are demanding change and we hear that.”
Nguyen said she appreciated the response of Principal Tim Brosnan and the faculty at Mitty.
“I was really moved by what Mr. Brosnan did right after the shooting,” she said. “Right away he wanted to act and that was a big step for us.”
Brosnan has served as Mitty Principal since the early 1990’s and he admitted this was one of his prouder moments.
“Our students responded as beautifully as you could hope,” he said. “They are fully aware of what transpired and now they feel empowered. They hope, as I do, those deaths were not in vain.”
In his brief comments, the Bishop also remember Jennifer Gonzales, a clinical psychologist and 2003 Saint Francis High School graduate, and her unborn child, killed on March 9 at Pathway House in Yountville by an Army veteran, who received treatment there for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Similarly, across the Diocese at the encouragement of the Bishop, middle and high school students across the Diocese held gatherings in remembrance of the victims.
“We believe each life is precious in the eyes of the Lord,” said the Bishop in a letter to school principals after the February 14 event.