At Iowa Prayer Vigil for Mollie Tibbetts, Priest Urges Mourners to Forgive Man Who Killed Her

As soon as Mary Jo Seaton got word, she knew her church had to come together and pray.

“That’s how I grew up,” she said. “When something like this happens, you pray.”

Her priest informed her Tuesday that authorities had found a body they believed to be that of Mollie Tibbetts, who had been missing since July. Tibbetts was confirmed into the Catholic Church in 2015 and was public about the influence of faith in her life. By Wednesday evening, Seaton and others at St. Patrick Catholic Church had rallied together and organized a prayer vigil.

Mainly, people didn’t know what else to do, she said.

For weeks, locals hung posters and banners in efforts to locate Tibbetts. They talked about a hopeful return of the 20-year-old University of Iowa student. Now, the young woman appears to have been found, but not returned.

“We think it’s important for people to come together,” Seaton said. “People want answers.”

More than 250 people packed into the sanctuary of the church Wednesday evening, as the setting sun cast a deep shadow over the shiny gold crosses and imposing stained glass windows that decorate the red brick building.

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” a small choir sang from high up in the balcony to the overpowering tune of an organ.

The Rev. Corey Close, pastor of the church, told the assembly he barely had words for the occasion.

“I’m sure many of us would give in a heartbeat our life for Mollie’s,” he said.

He said we constantly see stories of tragedy in the news.

“But then we move on because it didn’t affect us. And we always think that it never will,” Close continued.

But evil is in this world, he said. And the people of Brooklyn have experienced it firsthand.

“We can sit here and wonder what was the point of it, a person who had so much purpose,” he said. But “evil is irrational. So we can’t really wrap our minds around it fully.”

The pastor went on to call for a spirit of reconciliation. It may not come easily or quickly, he said, but the faithful must find a way to forgive.

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SOURCE: USA Today; Des Moines Register, Kevin Hardy