Sister Ellen McClure, OSF
The Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities in Millvale, Pennsylvania expressed their concern and compassion for the families and friends of the victims in the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue with a large sign stating, “We pray for and support our Jewish friends – Shalom.” They placed the sign in a strategic location where it could be seen by hundreds of people every day. One individual who saw the sign was Nathaniel, a Jewish man from Boston who was on his way to Shabbat services at a nearby synagogue. Moved to tears by what he saw, Nathaniel came up to the region house on Mount Alvernia to express his thanks.
There Nathaniel met Sister Susanne Sutton who was walking between buildings on the campus. Nathaniel voiced his gratitude and told her how he had been so moved by what he saw. They talked for a while about the shooting at the synagogue and how the residents of Pittsburgh responded to it, and, in particular, the sisters’ response on the sign. Nathaniel was carrying two loaves of Challah bread for the Shabbat meal he was on his way to attend. He gave one loaf to Susanne for the sisters.
Susanne then invited Nathaniel to see the sisters’ home and they toured the first floor. He was especially impressed with our chapel’s beauty and sacredness. He shared information about some activities that his congregation in Boston was planning, and he said that people in Boston were overwhelmed with the Pittsburgh people’s response to the tragedy. The sisters now have a poster from a Boston synagogue hanging on the Community Bulletin Board outside the dining hall where important information is shared.
The sisters shared the Challah bread at a meal. The awareness of the recent tragedy and of their closeness in faith with our Jewish neighbors was made real to us in Sister Suzanne’s encounter. She was at the right place at the right time.