TYLER, Texas (KETK)- East Texas churches are home to thousands on Sunday morning, and faith leaders are working to make them feel safe as they worship.
The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Tyler is making security a priority after a recent shooting at a Fort Worth church that took the lives of two parishioners.
Inside, it was a normal day of service with one exception.
“I was a little bit shocked when I came in today for mass,” said Jane Manly, a longtime member of the church.
Manly said when she came back into town after a mission trip, she couldn’t believe her eyes.
“There had been an announcement made that we were now going to have police security in the church at mass,” said Manly.
From now on, an off-duty police officer will be stationed inside and outside of the Cathedral. The purpose of the new security guards is to protect people against a threat that could happen at any time.
“Just to have them around makes me feel more secure,” said Dianna Braquet, another longtime member.
While safety is important to both of them, they disagree on how it can be achieved.
“People that may be thinking in terms of ‘I am upset with this, I am going to take it out in this way’ may not be as quiet as willing to walk in with a backpack,” said Braquet.
However, others disagree, stating while church violence may happen, it shouldn’t scare church-goers as a whole.
“I find the whole concept of needing to have police protection in everything that we do a little dis concerning because it elevates the level of fear, especially among children,” said Manly.
Father Hank points to church shootings that have happened in Texas as examples of the mass violence church leaders are hoping to prevent.
“We think of loving God and loving neighbor and taking care of people and stuff like that, but this is part of taking care of people,” explains Father Hank. “You can never control everything in the world, things are in God’s hands in some ways, but we have to do what we can do ourselves, so if we don’t do that, we’re not doing our part either.”
Now they hope it will keep the church and its members safe as they take matters into their own hands.