San Jacinto candlelight vigil remembers years’ tragedies

People gather at Hoffman Park in San Jacinto for a Vigil of Solace in response to recent tragedies, Nov. 9. Shane Gibson photo

The candles glimmered. Heads were bowed. Prayers and thoughts went out to God for the many lives lost and families traumatized by the recent hurricanes, mass shootings, earthquakes, wildfires, sexual assaults and racial strife that have plague the nation this past year.

Gathered together in San Jacinto’s Hoffman Park Thursday, Nov. 9, were 52 Hemet and San Jacinto Valley residents joined in a bond of both sadness and hope for those so affected by tragedy and death. In a show of faith and remembrance, candles were lit and hands were joined in the special vigil, sponsored by the Human Relations Council of Greater Hemet San Jacinto and Menifee.

“Tonight, is not about politics. It is not about our differences in religious beliefs,” Mary Morse said. “It is about being here – together – to acknowledge that we are all member of the human family, recognizing that we are all touched in some way by those tragedies. There is fear, there is pain and there is grief. We are all in need of comfort and solace. We are all in need of each other. Thank you for joining us here tonight.”

The group lit their candles, remembering the refugee families trying to escape from war-ravaged Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sudan and Somalia; the nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida; Nazi sympathizers marching on city streets and a vehicle attack in Charlottesville, Virginia; the earthquakes in Mexico’ the devastating hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria; the shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada; California’s wildfires; a truck bomb in Mogadishu; the truck attack in Manhattan, New York and the thousands of women victims of sexual attacks.

Attending the vigil were four members of the San Jacinto City Council and leaders of the Valley’s religious community including the Rev. William Heller of Unity Valley Church; the Rev. Cristobal Subosa Fl of San Anthony’s Church San Jacinto; Bhai Sarbjit Singh of the Gurdwara, the Sikh Temple of Riverside; the Rev. Earl Henley of St. Joseph Mission Church of Soboba and the Rev. Megan Owens of Pilgrim Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Hemet.

The HRC board founder Charles Knox and board members Amrik Singh, Michael Madrtigal, Kumaran Ramanathan, Penelope Engard and Angela Barker attended the vigil.

Morse said the vigil was planned just before the HRC heard about the shooting in the Sutherland Springs Church in Texas.

She noted that “prayer is a comfort to many people, to know that in some way we are connected to something greater than ourselves” and that is the reason they invited the religious leaders of the community to attend the vigil and offer their prayers of comfort.

She thanked the city of San Jacinto for allowing the group to use the park for the vigil, and she thanked the San Jacinto Police, Riverside County Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department and first responders who stood by for the vigil.

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