Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Prayers for Virginia Tech

I was surprised to see the news of the shootings at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. Tech is my dad's alma mater, and for most of the first twelve years of my life I lived in Blacksburg. Many of the buildings (Burress Hall is pictured on the left) and campus landmarks mentioned in news reports are familiar to me. My dad even lived in West Ambler Johnston dorm, site of the dorm rampage.

Virginia Tech is a beautiful campus in a beautiful corner of Virginia. I don't know how much has changed in sixteen years, but my childhood memories are mostly of bucolic countryside and unspoiled farmlands surrounding the small town and campus. My siblings and I used to love to run around the drill field and throw bread to the ducks in the duck pond.

The War Memorial Chapel on campus was particularly impressive. I don't know which war it memorialized, but the monumental architechture and sculpture was in a style best described as "Progressive Triumphant". (According to my parents, that probably sums up the liturgical style as well.) Underneath the mall (left) the chapel walls were sculptured with nude farmers proudly plowing and other fantastical agricultural characters. You can bet that I didn't pay much attention to Mass whenever we attended the chapel.

The campus chaplain, who will certainly be in need of prayers this week as he consoles his flock, is the same chaplain who baptized my brother almost 25 years ago.

Please keep Virginia Tech in your prayers this week.


Pro Ecclesia said...

I thought that I remembered your dad was a Hokie.

mrsdarwin said...

It's true.

We used to have coffee mug that said: "Mothers, don't let your babies grow up to be Wahoos!" Wahoos being, as you would probably know, the term for anyone who attended UVa.

CMinor said...

Oooh...that wouldn't have gone over well in my hometown, a couple hours North!

Actually, my SIL & her hubby are Hokies themselves, and still live in the area. I'm sure it's been a terrible shock. The Valley is usually a pretty quiet place.

CMinor said...

According to my parents, that probably sums up the liturgical style as well.

Diocese of Richmond, right? How well I remember...

mrsdarwin said...

Yep, Bishop Sullivan in the '80s.

I recall that the parish church in Blacksburg, St. Mary's, was often mistaken for a large gym.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I are devoted Darwin readers and met during our first of six wonderful years at Tech. My then-girlfriend actually entered the Church at the Easter Vigil in Squires Hall our junior year. (Fr. Richard left after our Freshman year, before returning some time later.) We used to go to daily Mass in the War Memorial chapel- all seated in a circle up on the altar. It used to be fun to gripe about the gender-inclusive readings and "twinkies" (as we called them) that they used for Communion. We mostly went to St. Mary's by the end of our time there.

Its so wierd to have this thing bound up with the setting for my warmest memories. We were talking yesterday how we would meet for lunch right outside Norris Hall. If I had a nickle for every "C" or "D" I got in classes held in Norris... I'd have a few nickles.

I've said it many, many times before: Virginia Tech is in God's country. May God's presence permeate it now.

mrsdarwin said...


Glad to have you reading! I do think you can call Blacksburg "God's Country". It's such a gorgeous place. All my formative memories are bound up, as you say, with the Virginia countryside. We used to live outside city limits -- I can't remember the name of the lane, but it was a long and winding country road, and we lived right next to the Dori-Del horse stables. I'm sure all that land is developed now.

I used to attend Harding Ave. Elementary, which if I remember correctly, was just down from St. Mary's.

Anonymous said...

Your dad was the first person I thought of when I heard about the shootings. He and I talked about it last night when I picked Michael up from youth group.
A terrible tragedy....
May our dear Lord have mercy on the souls of the dead....may He comfort their families.
A blessed day to all of you..

redtown said...

In some ways this reminds me of 9/11 again. Here's a beautiful prayer I found:

"Prayer for Virginia Tech":

Mercy of God deliver us.
Love of Christ heal us.
Spirit of God strengthen us.

Lord, have mercy on all those hurt by the horrific massacre in Virginia -- the victims, the injured, the traumatized, the grieving, the rescuers, and the healers.

Prince of Peace, grant that through your holy Cross where you suffer with all humanity, we may rise up to new life with you, to be instruments of your Peace.

Through Christ our Lord, and the intercession of Fr. Mychal Judge, "the Saint of 9/11". Amen.

(from )

Pro Ecclesia said...

There may be some ugly Catholic churches in that part of the Commonwealth, but in my mind, Tech is associated with some very holy and orthodox Catholic priests: my former pastor, Fr. Gerald Przywara (who, in addition to baptizing my 2 small sons, also, I believe, baptized Mrs. Darwin), served as chaplain at Va Tech several years ago, and Fr. John Abe is a Hokie alumnus.