By Ned Hogan

Development Director at Cathedral High School, Springfield

As you can imagine, this has been an incredibly difficult week at Cathedral High School.

But the real story is that through prayer and mutual support the school is moving ahead.

On Sunday morning, as word spread that a CHS student had been killed in a senseless act of violence, the school administration began to look ahead.

Conor Reynolds

What should be done to provide a safe environment for teenagers to deal with the unthinkable truth that one of their own had been murdered?

Every school is supposed to have a “Crisis Plan” but no one ever wants to have to use it. The Plan, and the leadership of John Miller, Christine Judd, Marie Hennessey and the Counseling Department prepared the school for a most difficult Monday.

Mr. "V" leads the community with prayer and song

Students woke to the headline in the Springfield Republican – “Cathedral Student Stabbed” and even more difficult was that nearly 70 CHS students had been present at the event where Conor Reynolds was attacked. Several of them held him and tried to assist him as his life slipped away. They had been traumatized.

Throughout the day counselors and others were there to provide a soft shoulder, a warm hug or just a listening ear.

A chance to express one's grief

But the real catharsis occurred at the Vigil held at Cathedral Monday evening. Nearly 800 students, parents and other members of the Springfield community gathered to pray, to grieve and to support one another through an unimaginable tragedy.

Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell addresses the vigil

Adults spoke of the hope for real change – an end to senseless violence that has gripped the Springfield community. Some spoke from experience of losing their own sons to violence on the streets of Springfield.

But then it was the students’ turn, and they spoke with love about their friend, classmate and teammate. They spoke of his smile, his enthusiasm and of his special place within the Class of 2010. Everyone knows that this spring will be different because Conor is not with us. And yet, we all know that he is inside each if us whose lives he touched.

Honoring their friend and team member

Cathedral suffered a great loss when Conor died – a loss we can never fill. But his passing has created something new. There is a deeper sense of our being a community that cares for one another. There is a special place where God has touched our souls, individually and collectively, and has put us on a path to healing. The pain will not go away easily, but in the pain we are finding God, in and through one another.

Remembering Conor