Prayer service to remember Nebraska mall shooting victims

.- One year after the shootings at an Omaha mall, the community is holding a prayer service to remember the eight victims and their families.

On December 5, 2007, eight people were fatally shot by 19-year-old Robert Hawkins inside the Von Maur department store at Westroads Mall.  Hawkins then killed himself.

The prayer service will take place today at 7:30 p.m. at St. Leo the Great Church in Omaha. Father Harry Buse, pastor, will preside at the prayer service, which will include Scripture readings, a homily and reflection time.

"Last year when it happened, we had a prayer service the day after and we just wanted to do something to continue to remember to pray for those people and pray for healing in the city," said Sister Ann Marie Petrylka, OSM, coordinator of the prayer service and pastoral minister at the parish.

Westroads Mall is located just blocks away from the church, so it is considered to be within the parish boundaries, she said.

The families of the victims are invited to attend, Sister Petrylka said.

Kellie Schlecht, sister of victim Dianne Trent, said she and several members of her family plan to attend the prayer service. They also will attend a Von Maur-sponsored breakfast and a 1 p.m. memorial service on the south steps of the store that same day.

"People have been wonderful. Omaha is a very small world," she said, noting she continues to receive sympathy cards. "It was such a big deal, such a horrible incident that happened last year that everybody was impacted. Everybody feels our pain."

Printed with permission from the Catholic Voice, newspaper from the Archdiocese of Omaha.

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