Memorial for shooting victims at New Jersey church

March 27, 2013 2:48:51 PM PDT
A New Jersey church is sending a message on gun control.

The pastor of St. Peter's Episcopal Church on Clifton Avenue in Clifton erected a memorial featuring black and white photos of victims of gun violence including those killed in the Newtown school shootings.

Also featured is Adam Lanza, the gunman in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Happy smiles, vibrant eyes, their names, and deaths are etched on the hearts of millions, and are now a part of lessons during Holy Week at St. Peter's Church.

"We invited people to learn about the story of one victim, and to pray for that person, for their peace," said Father Peter De Franco, of St. Peter's Church.

The portraits were posted on the lawn on Palm Sunday for everyone to see.

"It was depressing at first to walk by and see the faces of the kids who were harmed and killed because of this person," said Tammy Rivera, a Clifton resident.

But gunman Adam Lanza's portrait is there too, for Father De Franco's first lesson, gun violence.

"We need to see how his involvement challenges us to see how we could shift the culture of violence, and how his part in that culture, and how he was formed by the culture gives us some ideas on how it could be changed," De Franco said.

Lesson two says Father De Franco, is forgiveness. He includes the example of Christ's crucifixion.

"He said Father forgive them for they know not what they do," De Franco said.

So here in lies the Church's challenge to all, finding forgiveness even here.

"It's a tough situation. A lot of people, it's difficult to move on. It's a difficult situation," said Jimmy Luttrell, a Westwood resident.

"The church says forgive. I have no forgiveness for him because the kids are gone and never coming back. The teachers are gone and never coming back. I will not pray for him, he doesn't deserve it," another resident said.