OGDEN -- The Rev. Erik Richtsteig on Thursday evening moved around the perimeter of the brown-brick St. James the Just Catholic Church, reciting Scripture and sprinkling holy water.
A long stream of parishioners, two or three abreast, followed Richtsteig and forged a path behind the church, where green weeds and tall, purple blossoms grow. The procession wound its way into the church and inside the chapel, where stained-glass windows and a large crucifix overlook the rows of quickly filling wooden benches.
Four days after Charles Richard "Ricky" Jennings Jr. allegedly walked into the chapel and shot his father-in-law, James Evans, in the head during a Father's Day Mass, the priest and his parishioners were there to purify and restore the sanctity of their place of worship.
"I'm here because this is my parish," said Michael Shurtleff, who stood outside the chapel as people filtered from the church following the Liturgy of Reparation.
"My daughter and I have been attending here since 2003. We wanted to be here when our church was blessed. It will also be a sort of closure. ... But I think we're still going to need to pray a lot."
The ceremony began with the parishioners gathered in front of the church, where Richtsteig encouraged those in attendance not to be afraid to return to the site of the shooting.
He also implored them to be forgiving of Jennings, who he hoped would emerge in the end as a better person.
Richtsteig then led the parishioners around the church, ending up a short while later in the chapel. Standing in front of the altar, Richtsteig asked God to purify the church, and church members later knelt and prayed.
Speaking to the large gathering of parishioners, Richtsteig said it is crucial that no one affected by the shooting seek vengeance.
"The evil done in this church can stop today, if we can forgive," he told his flock.
Richtsteig also praised the many brave actions of those in attendance Sunday when the shooting took place, which he said overshadowed the evil actions of one individual.
"There were many heroes here Sunday," he said to the gathering, singling out those who immediately began protecting children, those who cared for Evans after he had been shot and those who chased off Jennings, who police say has admitted to the shooting.
"He saw the congregation coming after him, and he beat feet. ... People without a gun charged a man with a gun."
Before the ceremony, Joe Decarlo said he hoped it would give parishioners closure.
"This will help people move on," said Decarlo, who attended Mass the night before the shooting. "People here were startled at what happened, but they've pulled together."
Immediately after the ceremony, some streamed out of the church and left in their cars. But there were many who stayed. They loitered outside the front of the church, and they hugged and smiled, and they displayed a resolute faith that their church will not succumb to one man's act of astonishing violence.
"I think it's important for all of us," Richtsteig later said of the ceremony. "It helps us realize that evil won't win."