Beaver County community honors lives lost to gun violence in western Pa. this year

BADEN, Pa. — Several people gathered on the front lawn of Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse Sunday afternoon for a prayer service to remember the lives cut short from the recent gun violence.

One by one, the names of those killed by guns were read out loud and printed on T-shirts along Route 65 in Baden.

The stunning and sobering display called, “Memorial to the Lost,” represents each of the 56 lives lost to gun violence throughout Western Pennsylvania within the first six months of the year. The memorial along the busy stretch of road is meant to get everyone’s attention.

“This does open your eyes,” said Paul Leone of Baden. “It gets down to flesh and blood here.”

Community members from across Beaver County and neighboring counties came together in prayer and song to honor those 56 lives. Each victim was killed by gunfire from Jan. 1 to June 30.

“When you look at the names and ages, the wide range; there was a 71-year-old woman and then a seven-year-old child. It touches everyone,” said Terri Leone of Baden.

Terri Leone’s husband Paul agreed.

“It’s heartbreak and God weeps over this,” Paul Leone said.

There are two names that are not in the memorial - Dahvea Sparrow and Asaun Moreland, because the two 15-year-old boys were gunned down earlier this month after the T-shirts were made.

Sparrow was shot and killed in Aliquippa on July 8. Less than a day later, Moreland was murdered in nearby Ambridge.

Their names will soon be added to the memorial.

“Their lives, snuffed out before they even have a chance to graduate from high school,” said Terri Leone.

Sister Sarah Crotty, the community outreach coordinator for Sisters of St. Joseph, partnered with anti-gun violence organizations to bring the memorial to Beaver County.

“An average of 120 Americans die every day from gun violence,” Crotty said. “It is something that can be controlled.”

They’re frustrated over the senseless shootings and say it’s time for action.

“When you see the T-shirts with the names, their age, the date that they died, it becomes real,” said Marilyn Mulvihill, the Western Pennsylvania representative for Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence. “If we just do this and do nothing else, it doesn’t do any good.”

Many are hoping the powerful message leaves a lasting impression.

“You have to ask yourself, is this nothing to you?” Paul Leone said.

The memorial will be along Route 65 until August 10. It’ll then move to My Champion Life Church in Chippewa, and eventually to Mosaic Community Church in New Brighton and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Beaver County.

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