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Prayer Against Violence Offered at Commemoration of Shooting Victim

May 23, 2007 — Though the crowd was sparse Wednesday at a noon ceremony for Jason Carroll Memorial Day, the spirit was strong as Celia Carroll urged the community to come together in a day of prayer and healing.
Gov. John deJongh Jr. proclaimed the day in honor of Celia and James Carroll's 19-year-old son, lost to gun violence on May 23, 2000. Months after Jason was killed, Celia Carroll started a chapter of Mothers Against Guns (MAG) in the Virgin Islands.
The strident tones of a shofar — a ram's-horn trumpet — begging for victory over violence rang out over Emancipation Garden. It was played by Joel Gifft of the Impacting the Word ministry, announcing the start of the brief ceremony.
"We ask for forgiveness," Celia Carroll said. "When Jason was murdered, I almost lost my mind. When I couldn't take it any longer, I turned to God and he answered me."
Nicholas Lima, a third-year UVI student, had a message for other youths. "There is a lot of peer pressure in these islands," he said. "Young people don't know where to go, where to turn. Thank God we have a group reaching out to young people. There is an alternative to violence. Stand up for the right thing."
Joel James, the 16-year-old Charlotte Amalie High School senior who won the essay contest sponsored by UVI, joined Celia Carroll in prayer. The Jason Carroll Memorial Fund sponsors a UVI scholarship each year with money raised at its Walk/Run Against Gun Violence. (See "St. Thomas Runners Take to the Streets Against Gun Violence.")
Carroll read "A Prayer of Healing."
"Heavenly Father, we pray for the children of the Virgin Islands," she said. "As future leaders of this land, we surround them with our faith, and we lift them up before you …."
James continued, "Lord, we pray that you will remove all evil influences from our schools. Make our schools a place where there is joy in learning. Restore order and respect for those in authority in the classroom. Lord, we pray that you would also give our young people great respect for the laws of our land, our governor, John deJongh Jr., and all who are in authority."
For the complete prayer, click here.
The folks who gathered Wednesday were solemn on the bright, sunny day, bowing their heads as Carroll and James read. Several taxi drivers and a group of tourists came to join the group once Carroll began the prayer.
After the reading, James excused himself. "I still have fourth period to go to, and I have to pick up my cap and gown," he explained. "Graduation is June 10."
Pastor Jeremias Martinez ended the ceremony with a benediction.
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