The Rev. DeQuincy Hentz of Shiloh Baptist Church in New Rochelle speaks at Iona's prayer service.
Members of the Iona community – students, faculty, staff, administrators and friends – recently joined in “A Prayer Service for Healing” to reflect on the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, the injured and fallen officers in Dallas and Louisiana, along with attacks in Nice, France, and other violent acts in the world.
The Iona gathering took place on July 19 in the College’s Arrigoni Center. Though comparatively few people are on campus over the summer, more than 100 participated in the service and continuing conversation that followed. Common themes of action, unity, respect, education, faith and healing permeated the event.
“We believe that every part of this community should be working to raise consciousness and enhance the experiences of our diverse population,” said student Justin Henry, president of Iona’s Student Leader Alliance for Multi-culturalism (SLAM). “Students of color are everyone’s students. If you care about something that much, you will find a way to make social change! It can be through engaging students in cross-cultural conversations, expanding the co-curricular experience and integrating these topics in the academic curriculum.”
"As a College we are struggling to find truth and meaning from what, at times, appears to be utter madness” said Joseph E. Nyre, Ph.D., who underscored that colleges and universities, and specifically Iona, should be the example of how to face division, fear and anger by building unity and advancing solutions.
President Nyre continued his call of the Iona College community to take action, noting, “I am asking, I am inviting, our students, faculty, and staff to come together to take great action, to find reasoned solutions, to mutually support one another, to overcome the cancer of division spreading in this county.”
The program also included remarks by the Rev. DeQuincy Hentz, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in New Rochelle; musical selections by Olivia and Gloria Manning and the Iona College Gospel Choir; a reading of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1964 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance and of President Barack Obama’s speech in Dallas on July 12 (shared by students Jillian Mitchell and Diamond Wollaston), as well as a welcome by Angel Pierre, vice president of the College’s Student Government Association, and a closing prayer by Iona Chaplain Fr. Frank Dixon, O.Carm.