The Mercyhurst North East community is saddened by the loss of Akyra Murray, a recent graduate of West Catholic Preparatory School in Philadelphia who was among the 49 victims killed in last weekend's senseless massacre in Orlando. Akyra had signed a NJCAA National Letter of Intent with the Saints and was planning to attend Mercyhurst North East on a basketball scholarship this coming fall. MNE Saints Women's Basketball Coach Amy Senefelder said, "First, and foremost, my thoughts and prayers are with Akyra's family and friends. Myself, the women's basketball program, and the entire MNE athletic staff send our condolences during this unimaginable tragedy to her family, as well as all of the victim's families. Akyra was a great person and a perfect example of the type of student-athlete we want to represent our program here at MNE. I'm positive my team will keep Akyra with us throughout the season in spirit." Mercyhurst North East Director of Athletics, Brian Dewey added, "We join the rest of the world in mourning for the victims of this tragedy. For our country to endure something so heartbreaking, is truly sad. Our athletic department is even more devastated that we have lost one of our own. When Akyra committed to Mercyhurst North East, she became part of our family. She will forever be a Saint."
Earlier today, Mercyhurst University President Michael T. Victor issued the following message to the entire Mercyhurst University community, including a prayer written by Sister Lisa Mary McCartney, vice president for mission integration, and Greg Baker, director of Mercyhurst Campus Ministry.
Dear Members of the Mercyhurst Community,
The American Flag flies at half-mast this week on both Mercyhurst University campuses as we grieve the senseless massacre this past weekend in Orlando. We reaffirm and boldly proclaim our belief that all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, abilities, gender or sexual orientation, are precious in God's eyes and deserving of a full and happy life. Our prayers are directed to all victims and their loved ones, though we pray in a particular way for victim Akyra Murray and her family. Akyra, an 18 year-old recent graduate of West Catholic Preparatory School in Philadelphia and a basketball standout who was known for her kindness toward everyone, had signed her letter of intent to enroll at our North East campus this fall. I share this prayer, written by Sister Lisa Mary McCartney and Greg Baker, with you today as we reach deep into God's merciful heart for the strength, peace, and compassion for which our world is crying out.
O God of tender mercies, when Jesus was lifted up from the earth, you drew every wounded heart to yourself. This weekend's terrorist attack has again wounded so many people in Orlando and shaken the confidence of our country. Such violent hatred again makes us admit our need for your compassion and loving mercy. Fears and doubts invade our mind and heart. Our lack of love for others makes us suspicious and afraid. Yet each day you send your gift of healing that we need so much. Today we cling to our faith as we pray for each person who died or was wounded, physically and emotionally, in the massacre. We pray for their loved ones who painfully grieve. We pray for those who minister to and protect the people of Orlando, our country, and our world. We remember the gifts you give to us in earthly loves, in the quiet of creation, in our faith in the resurrection. And so, we pray to you who are mercy and compassion for our hearts. Help us to be instruments of your justice and peace. Amen.