Heartbreak and Hope 20 Years After Tragedy
Monsignor Basil O’Sullivan, Church of the Holy Family, Dunblane, Scotland, which, in 1996, was the site of a shooting at a primary school that killed sixteen children and one teacher. It remains the deadliest mass shooting in Great Britain to date. Monsignor O’Sullivan reached out to the Sandy Hook community after the shooting. Here, he talks with Rev. Crebbin about his experience as a faith leader, Dunblane’s journey of healing through the past twenty years, and what issues may arise for faith leaders as the acute grief of the initial trauma gives way to mourning over the long term.
Monsignor Basil O’Sullivan is the parish priest of Church of the Holy Family, Dunblane, Scotland
The Story of the Tragedy – Cantor Michael Shochet, a Senior Clergy, Temple Rodef Shalom and leader of the Police Chaplain unit for metro D.C. police
When time does not heal all wounds; Confronting depression; Choosing to stay; The Ministry of Presence; Asking questions of God; Re-traumatization; A different kind of bereavement; Rejoicing in the preciousness of life
Father Basil O’Sullivan
Born in Wales in 1932, Father Basil O’Sullivan spent his youth in Cork, Ireland where he attended both the North Monastery School and St. Finnbarr’s College. He trained for the priesthood at Dublin’s All Hallows College and, in 1956, became an ordained priest for the Diocese of Dunkeld, Scotland. O’Sullivan then studied at Gregorian University, Rome, where he received his license in canon law. Subsequently, he became the chaplain at the University of Dundee, and then priest of two parishes before arriving at the Holy Family, Dunblane in 1988, where he has remained ever since. In March, 1996, O’Sullivan was the chaplain to Dunblane Primary School when 16 children between the ages of five and six-years old were shot and killed, along with their teacher. Thirteen others were wounded, including two female staff members. Two of his parishioners were among those slain. In 1992, O’Sullivan was made Canon of the Dunkeld Chapter and, in 2018, Pope Benedict XVI made him a monsignor. He also currently serves as a judge on the Scottish Catholic Interdiocesan Tribunal.
Cantor Michael Shochet
Cantor Michael Shochet currently serves as the Senior Clergy of Temple Rodef Shalom, in Falls Church, VA, where his primary responsibilities including leading worship, teaching, and guiding lifecycle rituals.
Before he was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City, Shochet was an officer with the Baltimore City Police Department, and it is the intersection of these two callings that informs his current community service work as well. With advanced training in pastoral crisis intervention, Shochet serves as the Fairfax County Police Department’s Chaplain Coordinator, where he aids first responders in the aftermath of traumatic events, and teaches at their police academy. He was also most recently the Chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Public Safety Chaplains’ Committee.
Shochet’s volunteer community service has not gone unnoticed. He has been recognized by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors; the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington; the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution; the Jewish Social Service Agency of Greater Washington; the Fairfax County Police Department; and the American Conference of Cantors.
In addition to all his work, the happily married father of two sons remarkably manages to pursue a personal passion for music as well. He has performed in concert throughout Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, Israel, and the United States—including at the Kennedy Center—and, is scheduled to receive a Doctor of Music, honoris causa from his alma mater in next year.