She will forever stand in front of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Roseburg, arms outstretched, in memory of the nine people killed one year ago today at Umpqua Community College.
About 80 people, including friends and family members of the victims, attended the dedication Friday of a memorial bearing the white statue of Mary, Our Lady of Grace, dedicated in honor of the slain.
Below the statue, the words of Hail Mary are printed in English, Filipino and Spanish.
Photographs of each of the nine victims were set on the memorial, with lights in front of them. White and red floral arrangements stood to either side.
Julie Woodworth, injured survivor, sat in a wheelchair in the front row and was handed a bouquet of flowers shortly before the ceremony. Family members of victim Lucero Alcaraz bore her name on the backs of white T-shirts.
Volunteers wearing bright blue shirts offered water. Father Jose Manuel Campos, pastor at St. Joseph’s, warmly greeted attendees. Campos, along with Roseburg Police Chief Jim Burge and the Most Rev. Alexander Sample, Archbishop of Portland, addressed the crowd.
Grieving is a long road, they said, and memorials like this one ensure we never forget who we’ve lost. They also remind us of the tremendous goodness in the community.
“The tragic events that took place last year at Umpqua Community College have made us stronger in our relationship with one another. We have become stronger in our willingness to come together and to support one another in different ways,” said Father Campos. “We are one in our pain, but also we are one in our solidarity for one another.”
Campos said community members became heroes to each other in the midst of chaos and suffering.
“It was sad and difficult, but we prevailed in our love for one another,” he said. “It is that same outpouring of love that brings us here today.”
Chief Burge said the journey to healing after the loss of a family member or friend is never easy.
“Just like you, many first responders, community members, and many others still struggle for answers in the aftermath of this tragedy,” he said.
It tests one’s faith.
“But look around, look at the family, the friends, the community gathered here at this dedication ceremony. Our hearts are filled with faith, hope and love, spreading God’s compassion and comfort that over the last year has eased our feelings of grief,” he said.
Those who have been lost, he said, are “safe in the hands of God, and very, very loved.”
Archbishop Sample said the memorial is important not only so that the lives lost will never be forgotten, but also as a reminder of the goodness that evil brought out in so many people.
“In the wake of this tragedy, which has affected all of you, this community showed an incredible spirit,” he said.
He praised the first responders, who acted courageously and had to deal with the “horror of what happened, up close and personal.”
“Let this memorial not just be a sad remembrance of the horror that happened here a year ago, but may this memorial also stand as a constant reminder and witness of the strength of this community in Roseburg,” Sample said.
The memorial also reminds us, he said, of God’s protection and strength, and of the Holy Mother’s arms outstretched with motherly care for all of us.
Counseling was offered before the dedication from pastors of multiple denominations. The dedication was followed by Mass and a dinner.