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'It's about coming together in prayer': Waukesha students and teachers come together for parade memorial mass

Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha hosted a memorial mass for healing to mark one year since the Waukesha Christmas Parade attack.
Posted at 5:10 PM, Nov 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-21 18:10:43-05

WAUKESHA, Wis. — Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha hosted a memorial mass for healing on Monday to mark one year since the Waukesha Christmas Parade attack.

Before the mass, there was a moment of silence on the running track outside. With arms linked, students and teachers from Catholic Memorial and Waukesha Catholic circled the track and prayed. The circle represents an unbreakable bond.

“The people that were at the parade one year ago think about it every single day,” said Kristen Hartung of Catholic Memorial High School. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what happened that day and what we saw.”

Hartung helped plan the one-year memorial mass. She also helped organize the group of more than 40 Catholic Memorial students, staff, and parents who walked in the Christmas Parade last year. Miraculously, none of them were injured.

Remembering Waukesha Christmas parade victims

“It’s about coming together in prayer and continuing the healing process,” she said. “I see the students that were a part of that group every day at school. We check on each other.”

Some of those students carried candles representing the six people killed. A seventh candle was lit for all of the injured, the witnesses, and the entire Waukesha community impacted by the tragedy.

Sophomore Mary Grace Bohne was among those who carried a candle up the aisle at mass.

Her mom Patti felt compelled to be at the service.

“To thank God for the blessing that we are still here and to pray for those who are not,” Patti said.

Patti keeps a video on her phone that shows the joyful group from Catholic Memorial walking by her in the parade last year. Not long after she recorded it, she started to notice panic in the crowd.

“That’s when I saw the SUV pass, and it didn’t click for me right away, but then I realized what was happening and knew my daughter was up ahead,” Patti said. “She called me and I told her to stay on the phone with me. She told me she was almost hit. I ran to find her. A business owner let us inside her business, and we were able to account for all the kids in the group and called their parents to let them know they were safe. We cried and prayed.”

Just as they prayed that day, they pray now.

Patti and her family are among those who plan to return to this year’s Waukesha Christmas Parade in two weeks.

“I think that it’s an important part of our healing,” she said. “I think it shows Waukesha Strong. We’re not going to live in fear. We’re going to go back, and do the things we love to do.”

Catholic Memorial High School will not have a group in the parade this year. They are instead focusing on acts of service to help the community.

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