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Black Catholic victim of the Buffalo massacre laid to rest

The youngest victim of the Buffalo that one week ago claimed the lives of 10 African Americans was buried this weekend in Syracuse.

Mourners outside of Assumption Church in Syracuse, where Buffalo massacre victim Roberta Drury was funeralized on Saturday. (Lauren Petracca)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Roberta Drury, the youngest victim of the 10 African Americans killed in the White Supremacist massacre in Buffalo on May 14th, was laid to rest this weekend at a Catholic parish near her hometown in upstate New York.

The 32-year-old was grocery shopping at Tops Friendly Supermarkets at the time of the attack, having moved to Buffalo a decade ago to help her brother Christopher Moyer recover from leukemia.

“There are no words to fully express the depth and breadth of this tragedy,” said Fr Nicholas Spano, OFM Conv., parochial vicar of Assumption Church in Syracuse, where a Mass of Christian Burial was livestreamed on Saturday morning.

“Lives ended, dreams shatter, and our state was plunged into mourning.”

Drury, known by her family as “Robbie”, was raised in Cicero, New York and was raised Catholic in North Syracuse at St Rose of Lima Catholic Church, where she attended grade school. She was known among her community as a loving caregiver and companion.

“Her heart was so big; everyone was in her family,” her obituary reads.

“She couldn't walk a few steps without meeting a new friend.”

(Photo credit: Amanda Drury)

Assisting in the service and offering remarks was Daren C. Jaime, the pastor of People’s AME Zion Church in Syracuse. He was vested alongside Spano and other officiants on the altar, and his church’s gospel choir assisted with the music for the liturgy.

Among their offerings was a 1985 James Cleveland tune speaking of divine comfort in times of struggle.

“God is the joy and the strength of my life. Removes all pain misery and strife,” the ensemble sang as the procession prepared to approach the altar.

“My joy in the time of sorrow, God is my all in all.”

As a note of comfort, Spano presented Drury’s mother with an icon of Our Lady of Sorrows, a Byzantine Christian image associated with the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“There is no one in our lives who can share in your grief as much as she can,” Spano said.

Drury’s family has asked that donations be made to the Buffalo Zoo, a place she and her sister Amanda Drury enjoyed frequenting. Verified fundraisers for the families of other victims can be found here.

Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso—one of the first Catholic prelates to issue a statement against White Supremacy in the wake of the shooting—will participate in a candlelight vigil in honor of the victims at the El Paso County Healing Garden today at 7:30pm MT.

Catholic Charities of Buffalo will host an interfaith prayer service and donation drive at 5pm ET on Monday at St Martin de Porres Catholic Church, a Black parish in the city. Parishes in the Diocese of Buffalo are also taking up a second collection for Buffalo’s East Side community, where the shooting occurred.

Additionally, a virtual prayer service has been scheduled by the Knight of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary for Tuesday at 8:30pm ET.

It is being hosted by the historic Black Catholic fraternal order's subcommittee on racism, and will feature a reflection from Bishop Emeritus Martin D. Holley of Memphis.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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