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January 18, 2009

St. Rita student remembered

By Joyce Duriga


Senseless violence has to stop and we can help stop it by being peacemakers. That’s what Augustianian Father Thomas McCarthy said he told St. Rita of Cascia High School students at an all-school Mass Jan. 9, the day after student David Hresil, 18, was shot and killed on the street at 60th and Springfield on the Southwest Side.

McCarthy, who is St. Rita’s president, preached the homily and tied it into the story of St. Rita, whose husband was murdered. St. Rita convinced her sons afterward not to seek vengeance. For that, she is known as a peacemaker.

“I said how we’re to be peacemakers in our hearts,” said McCarthy. “Senseless violence has to stop. We have to continue on and celebrate his [David’s] life.”

That evening, more than 100 family members and friends of Hresil gathered at the site of his death to pray for him and to plead for anyone who knew anything about the shooting to go to the police.

They lit candles, prayed the Our Father, passed out rosaries and wore white ribbons on the outside of their coats. Some of the teens gathered there wore T-shirts bearing airbrushed memorials to their slain friend.

It was a somber occasion where Jesus was called upon for consolation. When tragedies occur, Jesus is there to console us, McCarthy said.

“When things don’t make sense — you know you’re not supposed to die when you’re 18 ... We have to be strong in faith and in each other,” the president said.

The gift of faith in Catholic schools provides something that public schools can’t.

“We’re so lucky in our Catholic schools that we can use faith to talk about tragedies like this,” he said. “I wouldn’t know how to talk to someone about a tragedy like this without bringing faith into this.”

The students find comfort in that, he added.

During the Mass they also prayed that the person who committed the violence would come to conversion, McCarthy said.

Hresil’s uncle, Brother Gary Hresil, teaches senior theology at St. Rita’s and serves as activities director.