TEXAS, USA — Mourners and supporters gathered at organized vigils in Uvalde and San Antonio Wednesday night, more than 24 hours after nearly two dozen lives were lost in an elementary school shooting, but still at the outset of a grieving process for a tight-knit south Texas community.
The prayers were abundant in both cities as families affected by Tuesday's mass shooting at Robb Elementary leaned on each other for support.
"We are strong to his power," one Uvalde community member told the gathering in that town.
It was the first full day without loved ones and without friends for hundreds in attendance.
"It just hurts real bad, but I'm trying to take it the best I can," said Isabella Solis, a 5th grade student, at the Uvalde County Fairplex who lost her friend in Tuesday's tragedy.
Typically the site of rodeo events, it became prayer grounds on Wednesday.
Most of the families there knew a child or teacher who died on a personal level. The vigil began with prayer through song as pastors from local churches read scripture, uplifting the brokenhearted.
"We give thanks because it didn't happen to our children, but I am with those families who it did happen to," said Juan Antonio Medina, speaking to KENS 5 in Spanish. "I'm going to pray for them so that God helps them not to forget, but to heal."
Eighty-eight miles away, outside the San Fernando Cathedral in downtown San Antonio, Mayor Ron Nirenberg joined the Alamo City's faith community to seek solace through prayer.
There, each ring of the cathedral's historic bell remembered a life taken too soon in Uvalde the day prior.
"We are here to be a collective witness to a trauma that has been repeatedly endured, and that we refuse to ignore," Nirenberg said, flanked by members of city council.
Mere steps from the cathedral that serves as a cornerstone for the Catholic community across the region, worshippers of all faiths asked for healing, strength and answers—giving their voices in pursuit of peace for Uvalde and peace of their own.
The Archdiocese of San Antonio is also assisting in relief efforts by sending counselors to Uvalde, where they'll bolster the response of mental health resources and counseling services.