Reclaiming the holidays after the unthinkable

Bend priest says holiday celebrations can help to heal

Tragedy can challenge Christmas spirit

BEND, Ore. - "People are really dampened," Fr. James Radloff of Bend's St. Francis of Assisi said Monday about his congregation.

It's called the most wonderful time of the year, but for some,  the holiday spirit ended, or threatened to, 11 days before Christmas. The shopping, the baking, and the decorating seemed wrong after the tragic massacre at a Connecticut school claimed so many lives.

Radloff says he was out for a walk when he noticed his neighbor's Christmas lights were off. When he asked his neighbor why, the neighbor said he could no longer keep his lights on when such a terrible tragedy had occurred.

Edward Alonzo attended Radloff's noon Mass on Monday. He said it was he first time in over a year.

Alonzo said he hopes to find comfort in prayer, but this Christmas will be difficult for him.

 "It's going to be very sad for me, for everybody, especially in the Connecticut area," Alonzo said.

Radloff told NewsChannel 21 the Holy Spirit compelled him to talk about the shooting in Connecticut,  not only during Sunday's mass, but on Monday's as well.

"We need to work so that this type of tragedy will not continue," Radloff said told worshipers. "Good will triumph over evil, that life is what we need to uphold and celebrate. We need to celebrate Christmas. Turn on your Christmas lights. Our Christmas spirit needs to bring light into the darkness of this moment."

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