'All Fr. Luke Asks for is Prayer'

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Father Luke Suarez (left) was ordained to the priesthood on May 16, 2011 by Bishop William E. Lori at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown, Conn.

As we all continue to grieve for the victims and their families in the shooting rampage last Friday in Newtown, Conn., there are others in need of our prayers: those ministering to a town that will never be the same again.

On a personal note, we heard today from the sister of Fr. Luke Suarez, a priest at Newtown's St. Rose of Lima Parish. Father Luke's sister, Tabitha, sends a plea for prayers for her brother. Even in the aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 26 people dead, including 20 children, she says evil continues to leave its mark in the community and the parish itself.

Still, she says, this "tiny church, where my children have received sacraments and where Luke was ordained, has been full of people in prayer without ceasing since this tragedy happened. Love is stronger than death."

The following is Tabitha's words from Newtown:

My friends,

All of you, I am sure, have heard so much about the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. You have received emails from me about my younger brother, Fr. Luke Suarez, who is a priest at St. Rose of Lima parish, a Catholic church just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary. He and his pastor, Msgr. Weiss, arrived at the school within moments of the shooting and have been caring for the community ever since.

Father Luke has an impossible task before him. His diocese is without a bishop right now, and as it stands there is very little leadership and assistance from above. Monsignor is older, went through a serious surgery recently, and is personally devastated by the losses, as we all are.

Meanwhile, the rectory has received serious threats. For instance, as you may have read, as my brother gave the homily Sunday at the noon Mass, the church had to be evacuated by a SWAT team.

After experiencing identity theft and online hacking incidents, he had to erase all of his internet accounts. After a weekend of endless media requests, notifications, vigils with heartbroken families, and little sleep, he now has two wakes and two funerals every day until the fourth Sunday of Advent. Father Luke has not even been ordained two years.

My large family has been trying to send Fr. Luke our love and support from afar, and one of my brothers was able to visit with him briefly a couple times. All Fr. Luke asks for is prayer.

I have been wracking my brain trying to think of a way that our beautiful, loving community could tangibly reach out to Fr. Luke, Msgr. Weiss, and the St. Rose Parish, to support them in this most awful of times. I have sent many prayer requests, and I am asking for more prayers again. But I also want to ask everyone to search their hearts, and if the Holy Spirit moves you, please consider sending one of your family's Christmas cards to the rectory, with a few words of love and encouragement. Here is his address:

Father Luke Suarez
46 Church Hill Road
Newtown, CT 06470

My brother has said over and over again that without the prayer support he is receiving, he could not keep going. And this week is only the beginning. Everyone there is still in shock. Their peaceful home has been desecrated by violence.
They will need to live with this sorrow forever.

But in our weakness is His strength. Grace abounds. Can you help me carry him through this time of trial?

On a hopeful note, Fr. Luke did say that no media coverage has even touched the deep, beautiful awakening of faith that has occurred there. Their tiny church, where my children have received sacraments and where Luke was ordained, has been full
of people in prayer without ceasing since this tragedy happened. Love is stronger than death.

Please feel free to share the address with your family, friends, and community. An outpouring of love will sustain these good priests through their impossible ministry — impossible on their own, but possible with God.

I am so grateful to live in this community. We are all so blessed with one another. Every day, I see all loving one another as Christ loved. Thank you for letting me reach out to you now.

With humble appreciation,


On Friday, Dec 28, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception will remember in a special way the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting and their families at the 2 p.m. Mass at the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass.

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Christy - Jan 4, 2013

Dearest Tabitha and Father Luke: God bless you for what you are doing for these grieving families. Tabitha, you are a wonderful sister to love your brother so very much and worry about him so. It is kind of late to send a Christmas Card, but I may send a card anyway to let you know you are not alone. You are in my prayers as the Mothers, Fathers and families of the adults who were so wonderful are. I know they are all in God's beautiful Arms and being comforted by Our Blessed Mother. Yours, in Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Pat N - Dec.27, 2012 - Dec 27, 2012

Our family had a vigil at my daughter's house lighting 27 candles in memory of the victims. We said prayers for the souls that lost their lives, the town and families that God would bring comfort and peace in this time of such tragedy. We will continue to pray for you & your parish. I know that God will give you the strength necessary to carry on and bring comfort to those that despair. May God bless you all!!

Maria P. (Canada) - Dec 26, 2012

Thank you so much for publishing this beautiful letter on the Divine Mercy site. Thank you Tabitha for sending it in. Fr. Luke has a wonderful sister. My heart bleeds for all the victims and their families, especially that this tragedy happened at this time of year. Heartfelt thanks to you Fr. Luke, for your shepherd heart. Please be assured of our continued prayers for all the victims, their families and the town to have peace and consolation. Also, Fr. Luke, we promise that our apostolate of Spiritual Motherhood of Priests will intercede to God to continue giving you strength and peace in serving your beloved community. Thanks be to God for His greatest attribute: MERCY.(www.spiritualmotherhoodofpriests.ca)

Grace - Dec 24, 2012

My prayers are with Fr. Luke and Fr. Weiss, and parents who lost children.
Let us not forget to pray for murderers and suicides all over America, God loves them too.

Lupe - Dec 23, 2012

Thank you Father Luke and Msgr Weiss. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I will continue to pray for you.

mary - Dec 23, 2012

It was a shock to have your tv on and you get this news of 20 children and 6 teachers who got killed by a person; well those children seen heaven at an early age, each one is in heaven, only god knows the answer.

Elizabeth - Dec 22, 2012

I will pray for Father Luke...God does care. Thank you for everything that you and Msgr. Weiss are doing.

Eileen - Dec 22, 2012

God Bless You Father Luke,

I will remember you in my daily prayers

Connie - Dec 22, 2012


Rachel - Dec 21, 2012

I believe that these little innocent children are having their first class reunion in heaven. I am sure Jesus is their guest of honor. I pray that their families find solace knowing that their children are in the arms of God.

Mel - Dec 21, 2012

Thanks to all men and women that offered comfort and consolation to the victim's family and the entire community. My prayers of peace, strength and hope go to the victim's families and the entire community. God's love is strong and always prevail.

Karen M. - Dec 21, 2012

Thank you Father Luke for all you are doing for your parisheners and the people of Newtown. My thoughts are prayers are with you all.

Tabitha, thank you for sharing your story with us.

God bless you all!!

Michele - Dec 20, 2012

Thank you Father Luke and Tabith. I sending you a Christmas card today. Thanks to the Marians for spreading their message! The gates of hell WILL NOT prevail against the Church. The devil WILL NOT WIN, although he's trying mighty hard. Pray, pray, pray everyone for God's loving mercy. The victims of this horrible act are precious angels who have a special in Heaven and sit in the lap of God. I truly believe this. Do not despair!!!!