Archpastoral Letter on the Amish Children Massacre
To The Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers and
Beloved Faithful of this God-saved Diocese:
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Dear Fathers and Faithful:
Near a village in Pennsylvania
called Paradise, there is now an empty parcel
of land. Next spring it will be carpeted with green alfalfa as pasture for the
flocks. Formerly it held a simple, white wooden schoolhouse. That parcel was
the West Nickel Mines Amish Schoolhouse. On Thursday, October 12 the
schoolhouse was razed.
Undoubtedly you understand why this had to be.
On a horrible morning on October 2, a young man crazed with anger and shame
invaded a defenseless group of children and teachers. By the time the shooting
and the screams were over, ten little girls had been shot. Of these, five
perished, mainly because a demonized young man wanted to add homicide to his
So it is understandable why the timbers and the
shingles of this little Amish school, in this little pacifistic and primitive
Anabaptist community were bulldozed at night. No child should ever be sent to
school in such a place again.
What is less understandable is the reaction of
the Amish. It would have been understandable for the Amish community to respond
with angry grief. It would have been understandable for the parents, family and
friends of the little girls to demand retribution. It would have been understandable
for the community to tell the wife and children of the murderer to leave the village of Paradise and to never come back.
All of this would have been too understandable,
for we know ourselves all too well. But what is not understandable is what the Amish
actually did. The members of this schismatic, heterodox sect have embraced the
wife and children of Charles Carl Roberts, the young man who carried his guns
into the West Nickel Mines
School. They have given
money to help support the young widow in her own sorrow. They have prayed for
her and the children. They even attended the funeral services of the young man
himself, the one who shot dead their own little girls.
Several days ago, the mother of + Marian Fisher
welcomed Marie Roberts into her home for dinner. Marie is the widow of Charles
Carl Roberts. Marian Fisher is the thirteen year old girl who, on October 2,
stood face to face with the mad and heavily-armed Charles Carl Roberts, and she
begged him to shoot her and to let the others go free.
We have much to learn from the Amish, and from
little Christians like Marian. They do not have the fullness of the Faith, for
that is what Orthodoxy is. But if these Amish do not have the fullness of the
Faith, they do have the fullness of Forgiveness.
I call upon us all, in this Diocese, to seek
this very same fullness. Seek this same perfection of forgiveness by being
authentic in Orthodoxy, and by praying for these examples of mercy: + Marian
Fisher (13); + Anna Mae Stoltzfus (12); + Naomi Rose Ebersole (7); and the two
sisters, + Lena Miller (7) and + Mary Liz Miller (8).
In a previous letter, I have asked you to send
donations to those who have been hurt by the violence at Nickels Mines near Paradise. I ask you again in this letter. Think of the
beauty of their love, the mercy and grace we have seen in these people, who
have taught us what the Lord Jesus said, from the point of His own extremity of
suffering grief, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do".
Send them a gift, and thank them for reminding
us, in these coldhearted days, about the meaning of forgiveness once again.
With my blessing, I remain
Most sincerely yours in Christ,
+ METROPOLITAN NICHOLAS