Securing the Sanctuary

The topic of parish safety was poignantly highlighted in a recent discussion initiated by listener Eric from Virginia who called into The Patrick Madrid Show. Eric expressed his unease following a recent attempted shooting, prompting him to seek advice on advocating for enhanced security measures at his own parish.

“In Louisiana last week, there was an attempted mass shooting, and that really concerned me, as somebody who is knowledgeable with firearms and other weapons and whatnot. I just want to ask how can I approach my priest and ask him, ‘Do we have a plan of action? God forbid, something like this happens,’ or ‘What can we do?’ or ‘What can I do?’”

Patrick Madrid, leveraging his experience from a parish that has proactively embraced stringent security protocols, provided Eric and his listeners with a series of steps to take to address these concerns with parish leadership:

  1. Arrange a Meeting: Start by requesting a meeting with your parish priest to discuss security concerns.
  2. Express Your Concern: Clearly articulate the increasing incidents of violence against religious communities and your desire to contribute to the safety of your parish.
  3. Offer to Assist: Volunteer to coordinate the establishment of security measures, alleviating additional burdens from parish priests and staff.
  4. Propose Specific Actions: Suggest the formation of a security committee that could potentially include parishioners with military or law enforcement backgrounds.
  5. Emphasize Training: Advocate for active shooter training programs to ensure that parishioners are prepared to respond effectively in an emergency.

Patrick also shared essential safety tips emphasizing situational awareness and the importance of knowing your environment, particularly the nearest exits when attending Mass. He stressed the need for immediate action rather than passivity in the event of an incident, advising against playing dead as it could increase vulnerability.

The conversation also included contributions from Doug in Scottsdale, Arizona, who discussed the “Porters of St. Joseph,” a security initiative by laymen during Masses, which has gained support from local bishops and is expanding within the Dioceses of Phoenix and Tucson.

An interesting ethical query was raised by Jeff, a deputy sheriff from Gilbert, Arizona, regarding the morality of carrying a concealed firearm to church. Patrick reassured him, highlighting that there is no church teaching that prohibits lawful self-defense and emphasizing the importance of being prepared to protect the congregation.

The key takeaways from the discussion on enhancing security in parish communities emphasizes the importance of preparation and training, which are vital for minimizing risks and ensuring a swift, coordinated response in emergencies. Engaging parishioners in the implementation of safety measures is also crucial as it fosters a proactive defense and enhanced community involvement. The barriers to gaining support from clergy for initiatives like this are often very low because maintaining the safety of the congregation is of the utmost importance.

This comprehensive approach not only underscores the need for practical measures but also reaffirms the spiritual strength of the community, echoing the biblical reassurance, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). As these discussions and implementations progress, they serve as a testament to a faith community’s resilience and commitment to safeguarding its members.

Listeners are encouraged to stay vigilant and proactive, ensuring their parish remains a safe place to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Tune in to The Patrick Madrid Show weekdays 8am-11am CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.