By Mary O’KEEFE
A candlelight vigil to honor the victims of the Orlando shootings was held in the courtyard of St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church on Sunday night. Holly Cardone organized the event after having a conversation with her friend Dawn Duran.
“My friend Dawn approached me Saturday morning and we immediately started taking about our broken hearts, our despair and grief over the tragic shooting in Orlando,” Cardone said.
In the early morning hours of June 12 a gunman walked into the Pulse, a
gay dance club in Orlando, Florida. He took hostages and, in the end, had killed 49 and injured 53.
Duran asked Cardone, a postulant for Holy Orders in the Episcopal Church, if she was planning a vigil. Since she wasn’t they began planning. They reached out to Kirby Smith, vicar of St. Luke’s, to use the church’s courtyard. It seemed appropriate since this courtyard had been the site of other candlelight vigils including for those young lives lost to suicide a few years ago.
Friends and community members arrived at St. Luke’s at about 8:30 p.m.
“For me, standing with my friends around a table of 50 lit candles, one for each of the victims and one for the perpetrator, and hearing their names read out loud made it immediately real,” Cardone said.
Cardone said she felt there was a need to honor those lives lost and those wounded. She added that, like many others at the vigil, she had danced at gay clubs, joined in pride festivals and had family and friends who were members of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer and/or questioning) community.
“This was the first act of picking our shattered hearts off the ground and slowly beginning to glue them back together,” she said of the vigil.