Maryland college students sing, pray for those killed in Paris, Beirut

and Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
Marylanders showed their support for devastated France and Lebanon with prayers and song on Monday.

The prayers came one after another, from different religions, in different languages — all pleading for peace and unity after the terrorist attacks last weeks in Paris and Beirut.

"Lord, hear our prayer; Deus, exaudi nos; Senor, escuchanos," sang college students at an interfaith service at Loyola University Maryland.

Marylanders in Baltimore and Annapolis sang and prayed Monday to voice their love and support for the families, friends and nations of the 129 people in France and 40 in Lebanon killed.

The Rev. John Murray, Imam Bashar Arafat and Rabbi David Greenspoon led Christian, Buddhist, Jewish and Islamic songs, prayers, readings and chants before the candlelight vigil of about 100 attendees at Loyola's Alumni Memorial Chapel in the late afternoon.

In Annapolis, more than two dozen people surrounded the French monument at St. John's College to sing the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise." The monument was built in 1911 in remembrance of the French solders and sailors who died during the American Revolution.

St. John's language tutor Tom May credited a senior student, David Conway, with the idea.

"He wrote to me and said, 'In the wake of the terrible attacks in France, we should do something. How about singing 'La Marseillaise?'" May said.

Conway passed out lyrics to "La Marseillaise," and the crowd followed that song with a rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"It seems strange to imagine such a large-scale attack in Paris," Conway said.

The attacks shook Samantha Wilkerson, a 21-year-old Loyola senior who spent the fall 2014 semester abroad in Paris. All her friends who live there are OK, she said.

"I started crying," Wilkerson said. "It was heartbreaking."

Wilkerson came to the service with friend Bryan Orbe, also a 21-year-old senior. Orbe said it was beautiful and, more importantly, inclusive.

"I enjoyed that they incorporated multilingual prayer," he said. "It takes a lot of courage to say the word 'Allah' in the current state of the world. I'm glad my school was able to unify these different religions for the sake of peace."

"It's nice to be able to have everyone come together to talk about it," Wilkerson added.

Loyola has 17 undergraduate students studying abroad at the American University in Paris this semester. All of them were unharmed, and none plan to return early because of the attacks, the college said.

The university's president, the Rev. Brian Linnane, who is on sabbatical in London through the end of the fall semester, went to France after the attacks to visit the Loyola students there.

Wilkerson called his visit "a good move" that will "reassure them the school is still taking care of them."

As a precaution, Loyola has asked its students studying abroad in other European countries — including Spain, Greece, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Belgium, England, Italy and the Netherlands — not to travel this weekend.

"We are monitoring the situation closely for any new developments," university spokesman Nick Alexopoulos said.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

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