The Diocese of Fresno — to which Bakersfield Roman Catholic churches belong — released a statement Wednesday on shootings that left three dead in Fresno on Tuesday.

DIOCESAN STATEMENT: FATAL SHOOTINGS IN THE COMMUNITY OF FRESNO CALL ALL THE FAITHFUL TO PRAYER, REFLECTION AND RECONCILIATION

In less than two minutes, three lives were taken for no apparent reason beyond an incomprehensible depth of hatred carried in the heart of one man. Scripture states: “Whoever says that he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall. Whoever hates his brother is in darkness; he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” (1 John 2:9-11) Once again, our community is touched by darkness. Family, friends, neighbors and the vast multitude of good and caring people in our community must now decide, once again, how we will respond to this senseless tragedy. We must reflect on what we have experienced and how we feel about it. Anger and outrage are certainly a natural reaction; yet, these feelings must also be experienced as an invitation to prayerful reflection so that our raw feelings do not take hold and lead us into the very darkness we abhor. Let us seize this moment as an opportunity to live as people of light not darkness by rejecting the temptation to hate the hater and embracing the gift of grace that opens hearts to choose love which conquers all evil. With loving concern we pray for the deceased, their families and all who have been deeply affected by this tragic loss of life, that they may find strength, consolation and healing, as we find our place with them on the pathway to peace. We also pray for the conversion of souls that intentionally inflict acts of violence on innocent victims. May their minds and hearts be enlightened and opened to God’s love, mercy and forgiveness; and may we be prepared to walk with them when they seek reconciliation within our community.

MESSAGE FROM KELLY LILLES, CATHOLIC CHARITIES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Our hearts are heavy as we reflect on the wrong done to our community yesterday and the horrific events that took place as a result of one angry individual. On behalf of myself, the Board of Directors and staff, we give thanks to the many who have reached out, as well as our first responders in the line of duty every day who are devoted to protecting our community from such darkness.

It’s important for the community to know that we will not let this darkness overshadow the light. Where there is light, there is hope. And that’s what we do here at Catholic Charities – we provide hope to those most vulnerable. As the first responders in helping our neighbors with food, clothing and other basic necessities, Catholic Charities is and always will be a safe harbor to those in need. Our team has come together with prayers for the victims and their families, for our clients and for each other and this morning we opened our doors to our clients seeking assistance. Nothing will stop us from being a light for our community and we will continue to be here even in times of great sadness.

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