by Rev. Andrea Ayvazian
Haydenville Congregational Church
Friday, June 17, 2016
On Monday evening, our church in Haydenville held a service in response to the shootings in Orlando. There were readings, prayers and much weeping. After a time of silence, Pastor Chris Mereschuk passed around a basket filled with 49 strips of paper, each with the name of someone who was killed in Orlando written on it, and their age.
We took the strips of paper as the basket was passed through the pews, and then Pastor Chris invited us to come forward, one at a time, and call out the name. Chris lit a candle for each person named. At the very end, Chris, through his tears, said the shooter’s name and lit the 50th candle.
When I went forward, I called out the name on my little strip of paper: Stanley Almodovar III, age 23. The next day I went to the copy center and had my little strip of paper laminated, and I have been carrying it with me ever since.
When I picked my strip of paper out of the basket, all I knew of my victim was his name and age. But the next day I learned that Stanley Almodovar III was from Springfield. A pharmacy technician, Stanley was a big-hearted, happy man, according to the Orlando Sentinel. He fussed with his hair and changed the color often. Described by his Aunt Yoly as an “an amazing person with a good soul,” Stanley Almodovar had a promising future.
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