The Washington Post Sunday magazine asked people how many people they knew who had been shot. The Rev. Mary Jo Ledgerwood of the Diocese of Virginia spoke of the shootings at St. Peter’s in Ellicott City, Maryland.
NUMBER: TOO MANY
Mary Jayne Ledgerwood, 54
The Plains // Priest in charge, Grace Episcopal Church, The Plains
Mary-Marguerite Kohn was co-rector at St. Peter’s in Ellicott City. In May of last year, a man who frequented their food pantry, and who she knew, came in around 5 in the afternoon. There was an altercation of some kind, and he shot Mary-Marguerite and the woman who was also working in the office. They were both killed. The man left the building and went into a nearby wood and killed himself.
I met Mary-Marguerite when we were Episcopal priest colleagues in the diocese of Maryland. Everybody knew her as a lovely person.
My reaction was multifold. Initially, I grieved a lot for an incredible colleague. A beautiful priest. A person who was loving and caring. My second reaction was trying to find answers. And then finally I had to figure out: How am I going to take this and help my congregation make sense of it and then continue my ministry and not be afraid? In our church, here in The Plains, I really am the shepherd of a flock in all the senses of the word. It’s my responsibility to care for them in every way and for people who are in need as well, who are within and without of the parish.
I think one of the most powerful things anyone can do is pray, no matter what denomination. We prayed for the children who were killed at Newtown, but we prayed also for the man who shot everyone and his mother. A lot of lists were going around with just the children on it, but our parish prayed for them all. There’s just no doubt about it: The man who instigated all of that was ill. And that’s what the church can do. The church can pray and encompass all of God’s children.