Terrorism shocks Servite community

clarawertzberger & marykiscoan



A bird’s eye view: Standing atop the Eiffel Tower, tourists and locals see the city of Paris spread out below. Built in 1889, the tower still rises 984 feet from its base after all the surrounding chaos. Photo by Ann Porter.

Marian’s sister school in Paris, Blanche de Castille High School, is roughly 20 minutes away from Stade de France, the stadium where multiple suicide bombers caused death and mass panic on Nov. 13. The high school is only about 28 minutes away from Bataclan Concert Hall, where 89 people were murdered the same night. According to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, the death toll from the terrorist attack on Paris is now at 130, and six locations in Paris were under seige.


Honoring the fallen: Jessica Hudson ’17 draws the Eiffel Tower in the Quad to show support for those effected by the terrorist attacks in Paris. Marian’s Sister Servite School, Blanche de Castille, is near the chaotic scene.  Photo by Clara Wertzberger. 

As the death toll rose that night,
so did senior Anna Domet’s fear.  With Domet’s mother almost in tears, her family anxiously waited to hear from Selma Kerroux. The Domet family hosted 16-year-old Kerroux last year for a 10-week immersion experience in the United States, which included an International Servite Schools Network (ISSN) conference held at Marian. Their hospitality
was returned when the Domets stayed with Kerroux’s family this
past summer in Paris. Domet and Kerroux often communicate by e-mail, iMessage, and other methods.

“I think it’s so important to stay in contact, because you never know when something’s going to come up. You never know when they are going to need you. I think it’s important to maintain that relationship,” Domet said. Though Kerroux’s mother responded to Domet’s mother a few hours after she sent a frantic e-mail, Domet still felt incredible sorrow.

“I was disturbed. It kind of reminded me of 9/11. I felt a numbness that kept growing. It was just really scary,” Domet said.

Domet is not alone. Upon hearing the news of the deaths in Paris, Sr. Mary Gehringer, Provincial of the North American Servants of Mary, reached out to her sisters in Paris who are members of the Francophone Servite Community.

“I was here at the Motherhouse. Like most tragic news, it was difficult to grasp the scope of it, and that it indeed had really happened. My first thoughts were, ‘How senseless!’ My next reaction was prayer for all involved and especially for the safety and well being of our sisters,” said Sr. Mary. Sr. Mary Gehringer immediately contacted Sr. Chantal Mari, the Prioress of the Francophone Community, and she learned that the sisters were safe. With the good news, Sr. Mary then reported the message to all Servite sisters and their associates living in the United States and asked for prayers.

The sisters at the Motherhouse have encouraged the entire Marian community to keep the people of Paris in our hearts, since the city is still grieving the loss of 130 people.

In Sr. Chantal’s message to Sr. Mary, she described the terrorists’ impact on one young father. “I would like to share with you the words of a young man, a father of a 17-month old child, who was left a widower that night. ‘You have stolen the love of my life, but you will not have my hatred,’” Sr. Chantal wrote.

At this point, sisters in the Marian community told the students and faculty to do one thing that cannot ever be stopped by terrorists. “I’d suggest that you send e-mails to the school and let them know that the Marian students are all praying for them,” Sr. Mary said.

The Marian community sent a signed poster to Blanche de Castille to show the students’ and staff’s support. In Mrs. Janet Tuttle’s French classes, substitute teacher Ms. Kathy Tocco encouraged students to write letters to Blanche de Castille students.

Millions have responded to the terrorist attacks on Paris with prayer, some using the social media hashtag #PrayforParis. They offered support and love in a time of fear, sadness, and uncertainty. Marian’s French students created artwork on the whiteboard in the back of the room to send to the Twitter hashtag on their own time.

“I think all the people in France right now are struggling. We were talking to the [Kerroux] family; they were talking about how people were scared to go back into the city, because they think that something’s going to happen again. So I think they just appreciate that we’re standing with them,” Domet said.

The Servite sisters, Marian families, and many Marian students who visited Paris last year feel a close connection to the terrorism in France. To cope with events that directly affect the Marian community, Sr. Mary calls students and faculty members to support world peace efforts.

“Christ invites us to seek this evangelical stance through prayer, and to that end, we need fraternal friendship and solidarity,” Sr. Mary said.

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