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MSU students, faculty turn to faith to cope with tragedy

"We are setting up multiple counseling sessions, spiritual advice sessions, reaching out to as many people as we can," he explained.
MSU
Posted at 10:01 AM, Feb 17, 2023

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Religious leaders from all walks of faith are offering a listening ear to MSU students, staff and faculty who need a place to turn.

Imam Sohail Chaudhry said the Islamic Center of East Lansing has been a place of comfort for those trying to process Monday night’s tragedy.

“Some of our students were at Berkey Hall when this happened," he said.

Since then, Chaudhry said a panel of experts came in to offer mental health resources and refugee services.

"We are setting up multiple counseling sessions, spiritual advice sessions, reaching out to as many people as we can," he explained.

Also, religious leaders outside of East Lansing have risen to the occasion. Rabbi Josh Bennett of Temple Israel in West Bloomfield and others from the Jewish community in metro Detroit drove to MSU on Tuesday morning.

“What we heard from students in that time was that they just needed a hug. They just needed somebody to listen to what they’d experienced the night before. There were still many of them in shock, and we just needed to be there with them and for them," Bennett recalled.

He said Temple Israel also held a vigil last night in West Bloomfield at the same time as the vigil in East Lansing.

Katie Gleason, the director of College Campus Ministry at St. John Catholic Church and Student Center said on Monday evening students sheltered in place at the center.

Since then, the center has continued to be a place of healing.

“So initially, on Tuesday morning, students came in very traumatized really looking for a place to tell their story and just process the grief and the shock of what had happened. So, we had kind of a group counseling circle set up where students could just sit down, tell their story, hear from one another," she explained.

At the moment, the MSU campus is very quiet. Many students have gone home. However, religious leaders say support will be just as important upon their return.

Gleason said, “Some of those students who left right away, they’ll come back and they’re going to crash into the requirements of class and the business of life and student activities, and that’s going to be very jarring, emotionally, spiritually."

"So we know we’re going to see more students Monday and Tuesday than we even are at this point in the week,” she explained.