Rev. Robert F. Renjilian recalls growing up in Newtown

Rob Renjilian, right, and Ray Bush sing a few lines of ‘That’s My Baby’ during a White Rose Barbershop Chorus weekly rehearsal in this 2007 York Daily Record file photo.

The Rev. Robert F. Renjilian of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York said Newtown, Conn. was about as safe a town as you could find in America.

Renjilian’s parents moved the family to Newtown when he was in elementary school and he spent the rest of his youth there. His family still lives there.

“I could not believe something as awful as that had happened yet again in our country, but especially in my hometown,” Renjilian said today. “My thoughts went immediately to the families that I still know there in town and how they might be affected by all of this. And I’ve had a certain sadness each day since then.”

Renjilian will speak tonight at a vigil at Continental Square in downtown York from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. He will also lead a prayer.

“I’ve been asked to speak from my heart and it will take me this afternoon to put my thoughts together in a way that I can speak without breaking down,” he said.

Renjilian said he visits Newtown during the summer and at some special holidays and he recognized some of the family names of the deceased. His cousin has children who were in lockdown Friday at a different school.

They returned to school today. All Renjilian remembers of Newtown is a quiet, peaceful town where crime was rare.

“How I remember it as a kid is the most bloodshed the people would have seen on the streets of the town was if a deer or a cow wandered into the streets of the winding back roads,” he said.

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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