The stampede came when rapper Travis Scott performed on stage in front of a crowd of 50,000 people. The event is now considered one of America’s deadliest concerts.
HOUSTON, Texas – When a parishioner suggested that a local Catholic church in Houston, Texas hold a prayer vigil for the victims of the Astroworld music festival stampede, the pastor took immediate action.
âIt is important that the Church is in the mix and engages people to have faith in God and to look to God in joys as in sorrows,â Father Paul FÃ©lix, pastor of the CNA told CNA. ‘Church of the Annunciation.
A 22-year-old Texas A&M student who was caught in the crush on Nov. 5 at NRG Park died on Wednesday, her family said, bringing the crush’s death toll to nine, The Associated Press reported. Hundreds of people have been injured and a 9-year-old boy remains in an induced coma, according to the AP.
The stampede came when rapper Travis Scott performed on stage in front of a crowd of 50,000 people. The event is now considered one of America’s deadliest concerts. A criminal investigation is underway.
In response to the tragedy, Houston businessman and Annunciation parishioner Jim McIngvale approached Felix the following Sunday to hold a prayer vigil at the church, a 15-minute drive from NRG Park. When Father Felix said yes, McIngvale, the founder of Gallery Furniture and known in Houston as “Mattress Mack”, played a central role in publicize the event.
Father FÃ©lix presided over the vigil for the deceased taken from the Order of Christian Funerals.
âI just applied it to a number of deceased people, as opposed to a vigil for one individual,â he explained.
After the treatment, he returned to lead a rosary.
The pastor estimated that 20 people, Catholics and non-Catholics, attended the vigil on November 7. Attendees included local officials such as Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Houston Fire Chief Sam PeÃ±a and Fort Bend County Sheriff Eric Fagan, local media reported. The Dominican Sisters of the Province of Mary Immaculate, known locally as the ârally clericsâ after competing in Houston Astros games at the invitation of McIngvale, also attended.
âI just think that the people present seemed to be very receptive,â remembers Father FÃ©lix. “They seemed to be very prayerful and they came together with a sincere disposition to come humbly before God.”
Father Felix underlined two main objectives of the vigil.
âOur Lord calls us to do bodily and spiritual works of mercy and it certainly falls into that category – a spiritual work of mercy,â he said. Father Felix also underlined the importance for the Church to find ways to interact with an increasingly secular society.
âWe are very interested in positively engaging the community and helping people understand that prayer is appropriate in all circumstances,â he said, âand therefore just having your arms open, so to speak, because the Holy Spirit can work through these things, I think, and bring people to the faith and even sensitize other non-Catholics to see the loving and caring face of the Church.
Father Felix listed the second goal of the recent prayer vigil as a “demonstration to embrace people and show a benevolent concern, a prayerful concern for those who have died as well as their families and those who have been injured and for their families. families and a very traumatic event “.
âAs Catholics we have a theology of the cross and the resurrection,â he said. âWe have an understanding of redemptive suffering that the world does not necessarily understand, and we understand that we are our brother’s keeper. And so praying on behalf of those who are suffering (from) this terrible tragedy is very, very important, I think, and raising awareness and calling people to have faith in the midst of these things and to turn to God.
Father Felix cited the example of church outreach during recent World Series games in Houston.
âI had opened my church and had banners inviting people to come in and light a candle and say a prayer for the Astros,â he said. “We had an evangelism table on the sidewalk, with evangelism material, rosaries, miraculous medals.”
The Annunciation, he said, is the oldest parish in continuous use in Houston of all faiths. The parish is currently celebrating 150 years of its consecration.
âThis is just a reminder, I think, of the substantial presence of the Church, and of the particular mission of this parish as a continuum during these 150 years,â said Father FÃ©lix of the vigil, âand I thinks it’s a reminder of how much we really need – the world needs – our testimony and our service.