The Rev. Daniel Greenleaf, left, and Tyler Nadeau work together Friday at Holy Cross Church in Lewiston to set up a donations website to collect money for the victims of Wednesday’s mass shooting in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — The Rev. Daniel Greenleaf was busy at work Friday afternoon, leaning over on a large table in the sacristy at Holy Cross Church on Lisbon Street. He and parish employee Tyler Nadeau were working on setting up a special fund to raise money for the victims of a mass shooting.

The weight of the work was visible in his eyes.

In just an hour, he’d be leading Mass in the chapel, and weekend services would be here quickly, too.

“It’s caused some anxiety, figuring out what I’m going to say,” said Greenleaf, pastor of Prince of Peace Parish.

He was acutely aware that his parish, the greater community, was in pain and looking for comfort.

A shooter killed 18 people Wednesday night at Just-In-Time Recreation on Mollison Way and Schemengees Bar & Grille on Lincoln Street, less than a mile from where Greenleaf stood.


“I’ve got to create an environment where people feel safe,” Greenleaf said. “I’ve been thinking about ‘how can I communicate hope?’ Hope and healing in the midst of all this; healing with the understanding that this is not the end of the story.

“In many places there’s so much good that comes out of this, in the sense of people’s love and connection. We’ve got to focus on that, even though it’s dark or tragic — watch for the rays of light. Watch for the gifts, the angels that are going to be sent to help bear this burden, of this evil.

“I think that’s where we can go,” he said.

As events unfolded Wednesday, two parish priests made their way right into the center of the chaos at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, where most of the shooting victims were initially sent.

Those two priests are the chaplains assigned to the area hospitals, including St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. They already have security badges related to their typical work there, so naturally they were the ones to respond as the hospital was quickly closed while the injured were treated.

“Because that’s their ministry they were the ones to do that,” Greenleaf said. “All our priests had been waiting to help, though.”


To make things worse, the killer was still at large. It would be two full days until the shooter, Robert Card, was found dead in Lisbon of a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The Rev. Daniel Greenleaf, left, and Tyler Nadeau work together Friday at Holy Cross Church in Lewiston to set up a donations website to collect money for the victims of Wednesday’s mass shooting in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

On early Friday afternoon, Card had not yet been found. “What’s making this so difficult is it’s not done,” Greenleaf said in an interview.

Amid the heightened security situation, two chaplains became part of the team that met with people at the hospital. One of them, Greenleaf said, sat with a family in the aftermath.

Greenleaf was in the middle of a meeting when Wednesday night’s events unfolded. He and the others he was with sheltered in place until 11 p.m.

His first thoughts were of the people who died, who were injured, whose loved ones had just died, and what he could do to help.

“As a pastor, my first thought was to make sure everyone was taken care of,” he said. “There was a sense of ‘I’ve got to take care of these people.'”


As he spoke, he sounded almost like a parent.

“I feel like (a parent)! Maybe that’s why they call me father,” he said with a smile. “I want to make sure these people are all set. As soon as a name comes out I’ve got to find out if I am connected to them. Are they Catholic? But really even if they were atheist I’d still take care of them, but if they are Catholic I feel like I’ve got an even bigger obligation to help them, to make sure they’re OK.”

With all the pain around him, Greenleaf is prioritizing the community, but he acknowledges that on a personal level he is feeling the weight of it all in his heart.

“There’s things to get done, to take care of people. But in the quiet moments, when everything’s done, when the stress is a little less, when the immensity of it (settles in), I feel like, it wouldn’t take much for me to tip over to cry,” he said. “I feel like I’m on the verge of it, but I know I’ve got stuff to do.

“I’ve got people to take care of, and I want them to be cared for. I’ll take care of this after,” he said, pointing to his heart.



Bishop Robert Peter Deeley sits Friday in the pews of Holy Cross Church in Lewiston where he celebrated Mass over Zoom. The church, at 1080 Lisbon St., closed its large open services after a citywide lockdown was enacted after the mass shooting Wednesday in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

The young people who were at the bowling alley Wednesday night have been weighing heavily on the mind of the Most Rev. Robert Deeley, bishop of the Diocese of Portland. Many people were there for a gathering of a youth bowling league.

“I think it’s very scary when you think about it in this way, particularly in this community, that this has happened to start with,” Deeley said. “I think the tragedy of that we can’t escape, and the trauma that’s caused is grievous.

“I think of the youngsters that were bowling. Even if they weren’t the ones who were the victims — they are victims because seared in their mind is a horrible scene of murder which took place in front of them,” he said.

Deeley traveled to Lewiston on Friday to participate in Mass.

“I think the people doing the things they were doing Wednesday night, living normal lives, all the sudden to have that completely destroyed,” he said in an interview. “So their faith in life and faith in the people that surround them becomes undermined by that.

“So, that’s pretty grim and dark, and appears to be hopeless, but to me faith brings hope,” Deeley said. “Hope is a reality; it’s not a dream or a wish that something will be different. Hope is grounded in some truth, of belief, of faith — those two go very closely together. I think, in talking with my people, I remind them of what our faith calls us to, and how it gives us a promise that we can place our trust in a God that truly loves us, and loves us eternally.”


When asked what advice he would give to families as they deal with the aftermath, he said at first he wouldn’t advise them at all.

“First, it wouldn’t be a question of saying anything, it would be a question of listening first and determining what is needed in this particular situation. One of the questions that are being asked, ‘what are the things that are bothering them,’ because that’s going to be different with each person,” he said. “I think I would say that I want to listen to them first. Listen in the sense of embracing them as persons, in the same way I would have hoped their loved ones would have been accepted and embraced in life.”

As far as healing from the events of this week, Deeley said you can’t rush it.

“You don’t move to healing quickly. Healing is a process. Grieving is a process. It goes through stages. You don’t go from point A to point Z,” he said. “It takes time, it takes conversation. It takes continual questioning. It takes all kinds of emotional reactions to things, and over time peace can be found, but it does take time.”

Before he became bishop in Maine, Deeley said he was close to another tragedy on a mass scale: the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013. He was auxiliary bishop of Boston at the time. The similarity of that event with those this week, was striking especially because the perpetrators in that crime were not caught for a few days as well.

“I was close to the … marathon bombing. Those three days of not being able to find the bombers was fraught and people were frightened, as they are here,” he said. “The work that I was doing at the time did not bring me so closely to the people who were affected by it as being a bishop here does. But it was a very difficult situation, and had the same markings as this. It’s really tragic to be involved with two of these things in one’s life.”


On Friday afternoon, the bishop was planning to speak during the homily portion of the Mass. His focus, he said, would be on the Lord and the message of the Mass.

“It’s a homily, and the Mass itself is a healing tool,” he said “(It’s) the ability to be in the presence of the Lord, and to be renewed and refreshed by that, and to be reminded that in all things God is with us in Jesus. The Mass itself is a message, and I’ll try to focus on that.”

Bishop Robert Deeley celebrates a Friday evening Mass over Zoom at the Holy Cross Church on Lisbon Street in Lewiston. In the center is the Rev. Daniel Greenleaf and operating the digital equipment is Tyler Nadeau. The church offered a livestreamed Mass to allow the congregants to shelter at home during a countywide manhunt following the deadly mass shooting on Wednesday. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Because the Mass was celebrated virtually while the city was still in lockdown, Deeley offered some comfort to those watching.

“We may not be able to explain why bad things happen in this life, but what we do know is that his love is eternal and that we will never be lost, that God is always with us,” he said. “He welcomes us to life and to eternal life.”

Deeley directed parents who will be speaking with their children about the shootings to the dioceses’ website, to the faithful nation section, which has materials addressing how to talk to children. It’s part of the work done this week in response to what happened, he said.

During Friday’s virtual Mass, Deeley offered support to those wanting to offer thoughts and prayers to the families affected by the shootings.


“It is good for us to promise someone thoughts and prayers because it is the reality of passing on to another the deepest part of my life, my belief that I am created in the image and likeness of God and his love, and so are you,” he said. “When we offer someone thoughts and prayers, we’re precisely conveying that truth of faith which is our hope. It is the way in which we know in our hearts that indeed God is with us.”

Deeley was hopeful for the community that is now entering a period of mourning.

“It’s a sad time, but together we’ll make our way through it, and that’s so important,” he said. “Together we’ll make our way through it.”


At East Auburn Baptist Church, lead Pastor Craig Fortin was similarly preparing to offer prayer and support to his congregation.

Craig Fortin

“Typically in times like this is when people draw on faith the most,” he said. “We as believers are thankful for hope in Christ. And we’re happy to help share that hope with anyone interested.”


Fortin says he has a plan for those seeking comfort.

“Our goal is to, No. 1, love them; No. 2, listen to them; No. 3, lead them to faith in Christ,” he said.

Fortin said that there are a handful of parishioners that have loved ones who were in some way connected to the shootings.

“It’s hard to know the amount of connections here, and how it’s affecting people,” he said early Friday afternoon, before police had identified all the victims or even announced word that the suspected shooter’s body was found.

Fortin said a team from televangelist Billy Graham’s ministry arrived Friday to offer chaplain support as well.

The church has made the sanctuary available for prayer for all, and that they were offering an extended time of prayer for victims’ families that wanted to come, Fortin said.


“Everyone is feeling this in varying degrees,” he said, “and none of it is wrong.”


Tyler Nadeau, the director of Evangelization and catechesis for Prince of Peace Parish, said they have set up a place to donate to help the families connected to the tragedy. A link on the parish website will direct people to a fundraising page to help with funeral costs and to help support families of those injured or killed in the shootings. The parish is also working with area funeral homes to make sure the money is directed to the families for whatever they need.

“There’s so much support coming from outside the state,” Nadeau said. “It feels like everybody knows someone from here. People may move away, but they always consider this home.”

Nadeau asked people to reach out if they need help.

“If your family is in need, please reach out to us,” he said. “Let us know so we can help the best we can.”


Anyone looking to donate to help the families and survivors can visit, and click on the link that says “Donate to help the families of Lewiston, ME.”

East Auburn Baptist has set up a fundraiser to specifically help meet the needs of the families affected by the shootings, including funeral costs and meals, as well as to help support first responders. He said anyone interested in helping can give on their website to the Lewiston Community Fund.

“So many people want to do something,” he said, “so we’re offering a safe place to give.”


Prince of Peace Catholic Parish will be hosting a prayer service for the victims of the shootings in Lewiston from 2-3 p.m. on Sunday at Holy Family Church at 607 Sabattus St. A candle will be lit for the victims, and the church bells will be rung throughout the city followed by a moment of silence for each of the deceased.

Greenleaf will offer some reflections on finding God in the midst of this tragedy, and how to begin to heal and honor the dead. All are encouraged to come in and offer a prayer and light a candle. The service is open to anyone, not just parishioners.

A vigil will be held Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul on Ash Street in Lewiston.

Fortin said services at East Auburn Baptist would go on this weekend. On Sunday, services will be held at 8:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.

Fortin said that a prayer service is being planned in coordination with other churches in Kennedy Park. He said they are working with other pastors in the area to get permits from the city for a unified church gathering Friday night, tentatively from 4-6 p.m.

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