Explosions outside Calvary Baptist Church and Holy Cross Catholic Church in Las Cruces on Sunday have had a significant impact on many people. Some have shared their personal stories, thoughts, and feelings with NMPolitics.net on Facebook. We decided to republish some of their comments in full:
Mary Mastrantuono of Las Cruces
“When I heard, I was home. I knew my parents attended church at 9:30 at St. Genevieve’s, so I called my sister and we headed there to get them out. I was fearful that another explosion could occur, so it was a preemptive measure. My parents are 91 and 85 and neither my sister or I felt if something were to happen that they would be able to move quickly enough to get out. Then we went to breakfast. Mission accomplished.” (Reply to her comment on Facebook)
Rachel Owens Pulaski of Las Cruces
Attends Holy Cross, where one of the explosions occurred
“My father was there, we were in Albuquerque at the time. He said it was a bit scary but he said the first responders were calm and accommodating. They were also very compassionate and kind to the parishioners.” (Reply to her comment on Facebook)
Barbara Alvarez of Las Cruces
“Honestly, I grappled with my own reactions. I first heard about the explosion/bombing at Calvary Baptist and I was just stunned. Next, I heard that the same thing had happened at Holy Cross and I began to feel… betrayed, which is the best description.
“I have attended both churches, so I felt a personal connection to both bombings. I am a member of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and I play in the 11 a.m. choir. I didn’t know whether masses would be canceled, but I decided to go to mass anyway.
“Father Bill didn’t cancel mass. Indeed, he didn’t even mention the two explosions at either church. I can only think that he didn’t want to alarm the congregation. Attendance seemed to be its usual high number for that mass.
“All through mass and the rest of that day, I struggled with my feelings. I did break down after mass as I read more updated news accounts. I couldn’t make it to the interfaith service, although I wanted to. I think I would have been able to better come to grips with what happened.
“Right now, I’m just waiting for news that someone has been identified and arrested. Then, I’ll experience the other shoe dropping as we all find out why.” (Reply to her comment on Facebook)
Jayce McCormick of Las Cruces
Attends Holy Cross, where one of the explosions occurred
“My wife and I attend on Saturdays, I was unable to attend the Saturday before the bombings and felt bad about missing mass and considered going to the Sunday mass by myself, the same mass that turned out to later be interrupted by the blast.
“I woke up Sunday morning with a gut feeling telling me not to go and I felt more guilt for feeling like I was being too lazy or a bad Catholic for missing mass. Something just spoke to me that morning and it was eye-opening. While I was relieved no one was harmed, when I heard what had happened moments afterward I couldn’t believe it. I sat down and said a prayer.
“This could have been so much worse and could have torn families apart at a place of worship where people go to be closer to God. Had the explosion been more powerful and had I attended that morning, myself as well as many others could have been seriously or fatally wounded.
“This is a time where people should forget about hate, rely more on love and look for inner peace, whatever their religion or beliefs.” (Reply to his comment on Facebook)
Audrey Hardman-Hartley of Las Cruces
“My daughters attended Holy Cross School, and — 12 years ago — we would have been at that mass. I am sad that other moms were there with their babies, feeling safe, when this happened. However, the message is that Catholics always stand strong and come together in faith.” (Reply to her comment on Facebook)
Lucas Herndon of Las Cruces
Writing about a prayer vigil held Sunday evening after the explosions
“As one of the ‘non-religious folks’ in attendance (Sunday) night I want to first thank NM CAFe (Comunidades en Acción y de Fé) for organizing the event and bringing the community together. In the spirit of that inclusiveness I don’t want this message to be divisive, but one of personal feeling and bridging. I’m a neighbor of Calvary Baptist Church and I used to attend there when I was in high school. I know people who go there. I’ve taken my daughter there for community events like Trunk or Treat on Halloween. I went to a wedding at Holy Cross last Saturday for some close friends of mine. So I feel affected by these events as much as anyone.
“I spent my own personal time (Sunday) on the scene reporting what I knew so that people in the community could be informed. I wanted to attend the interfaith service and find solidarity with my community and share in the collective grieving or processing or whatever you want to call it. I totally understood going to the event would mean people would be praying, talking about their faith and their deities and I wanted to show support for those that have those beliefs because they are my neighbors and friends.
“But thinking that just because ‘churches were targeted’ means those in the community who aren’t religious aren’t just as affected seems, well, dismissive. I was raised believing that church was a term that identified the people inside the building, and that those people remained a ‘church’ outside the walls of their temples everyday of the week. Pastor Anderson said as much in his sermon last week at the wedding I attended at Holy Cross, that the couple were forming their own new church.
“IF that sentiment is true, than the body of those churches include this whole community, even skeptics like me. Those bombs affected the physical buildings, but as evidenced by the community response, the true body of the ‘church’ collective feels targeted, and I get that, but I also feel a part of it in my own way. I may not believe in god as others understand the concept, but I believe in peace and in civility. I denounce violence toward any group of people based on bigotry or hatred.
“I’m glad there was a coming together of all the different faith groups (well, at least the Abrahamic traditions mostly) and that there is a group consciousness all feeling our way through this ordeal. That’s all. Thanks for letting me share, thanks for making the space available to all of us.” (Reply to his comment on Facebook)
Bev Courtney of Las Cruces
“I’m already thinking about security. I believe that the right to self defense does not stop at the doors of the church. Be aware of your environment. If you stop the perpetrator before he does harm then it’s better for him. He would not be guilty of great bodily harm (serious felony) and gets another chance. If he is stopped with deadly force by an armed member of church or security guard or police officer, then in that case God’s judgement fell. Or you can also know that he reaped the violence he was sowing. Either way, good triumphs. Everyone is happy and peace will be encouraged.” (Reply to her comment on Facebook)
Jennifer Sensiba of Las Cruces
“I think we need to go beyond just finding who did it and punishing them. Incidents like this are just the tip of a very ugly iceberg that our society scraped against (Sunday). Usually we’re duking it out in court or on Facebook over social issues, but it seems to be getting uglier and uglier. Worse things like this were bound to happen eventually with all of the nasty, ugly rhetoric and lack of respect for others’ ways.
“I’ve come to the point of ‘Let me marry who I want, but don’t worry, I won’t make you bake the cake if you don’t want to.’ Just to give a personally-relevant example. But in too many cases, people on both sides of any issue want all or nothing. It’s ‘You don’t get to marry who you want,’ or ‘I’m going to get married and you’re going to make the @$^% cake, like it or not!’
“Take nearly any social issue and you’ll find this sort of thinking. People aren’t trying to find something that works for everybody. They’re trying to HOSE the other side as much as they can get away with. You find dehumanization, dire predictions of what will happen if that other side gets to budge their way even one inch (‘Blood will be running in the streets!’ or ‘God will smite us all down for this!’), and extreme but inaccurate polarization.
“All sides are responsible for perpetuating this sort of thinking and we need to knock it off and get along before somebody gets stupid and somebody actually gets hurt.” (Reply to her comment on Facebook)
John Lanning of Deming
“I was in Tucson far removed from the exploding mailbox and trash can. I was extremely happy that no one had been maimed or killed as a result of the devices. I do however think that some folks are giving more thought, or reading more into these small blasts, than is warranted. Over the years there have been several incidents of mailboxes and trash cans being used to deploy explosive devices. Over the course of time and sound investigations many if not most of those incidents were solved, and an explanation determined. Such should be the case here shortly.” (Reply to his comment on Facebook)
Claudia Anderson of Farmington
“The story went national, and the comment boards lit up… I think I saw blame pointed at everything from jihadists to the tea party. People want to blame someone, and someone they don’t like or trust, for these events in order to ensure stability to their own world view. Chances are whoever did this won’t get caught, so we’ll never know for sure. The best Las Cruces can do now is give thanks that no one was hurt and move on quickly. That’s a whole lot easier for me to say from up here in Farmington than it is for you guys, but the whole state has your back.” (Reply to her comment on Facebook)