A memorial outside Msgr. Paul Dwyer Catholic High School in Oshawa, Ont., commemorates the Traynor family, four of whom were killed Sept. 4. Father Chris was a teacher at the school while daughter Adelaide was to enter Grade 10 this month. Other family members also attended the school. Michael Swan

Oshawa Catholics mourn slain family

By 
  • September 9, 2020

The small Catholic community in Oshawa has been left to wonder why it has lost four of its members while another clings to life after a Sept. 4 shooting in the city east of Toronto.

It’s a community in mourning as it remembers and prays for the Traynor family, four of whom are dead after being gunned down in their home by a gunman who then took his own life. Chris, 50, his sons Bradley and Joseph, 20 and 11 respectively, and 15-year-old daughter Adelaide were killed, while wife and mother Loretta recovers from gunshot wounds in hospital. Another son, Sam, a university student, was not at home at the time of the shooting.

“The community is in shock,” said Fr. Robert O’Brien of St. Gregory’s Parish in Oshawa in a phone interview. “The Catholic community in Oshawa itself is fairly small and the families have a long history here and have been active and interacting with each other. For example, my catechist for confirmation has a son on the baseball team coached by Chris and Joseph was playing on that team. They played the night of the incident. Another one of my catechists was the president of the local swim club where (Adelaide) was a participant. We’re still all just trying to get our heads around what has happened.”

Chris was a teacher at Msgr. Paul Dwyer Catholic High School and Loretta is a teacher at Sir Albert Love Catholic Elementary School. O’Brien says the family was deeply connected to the parish where Loretta’s parents attended for years.

“It’s most jarring when you look at just what a healthy, happy, well-adjusted and faith-filled family they were and how could this happen,” he said. “Most of us expect that tomorrow will be like yesterday and all of a sudden that is shattered in this case.”

At Msgr. Dwyer, 90 staff gathered Sept. 8 for a prayer service and liturgy to remember their fallen colleague. Principal Michael O’Brien told The Catholic Register that staff have “been able to grieve together. God is our strength and our comfort.”

While Chris taught at Msgr. Dwyer, Adelaide was preparing to enter Grade 10. Sam was a former valedictorian at the school and its student of the year, said O’Brien.

Many of Oshawa’s establishment — its local politicians, lawyers, doctors, police and more — were Chris’ students over the years, said O’Brien.

“Chris was beloved by his students,” he said.

In a statement, the Durham Catholic board expressed deep sympathies and sadness at the news and held an online prayer service Sept. 9.

“We are aware that this incident reaches far into many of our school communities across the board. Regardless of connection to the individuals involved, such sad and disturbing news so close to home may bring about a variety of heightened emotions,” said Tracy Barill, director of education, in the statement.

O’Brien said Loretta’s parents were regular parishioners at the church and he will continue to prayerfully look for ways to fully support the family and community.

“When I preached on the weekend, I spoke about the fact that what we need to do is deal first of all with our own grief, so that we’re not  getting in the way of being ambassadors of healing for the family,” said O’Brien. “In due course, I hope that when they return to the community, that they would feel welcome and allowed to be themselves.”

Bradley was a third-year bachelor of commerce student with a major in management economics and finance at the University of Guelph.

“Bradley’s future was full of promise and possibilities, and our campus community is mourning this tragic loss,” said Charlotte Yates, president of the University of Guelph in statement released Sept. 6.

“We send our heartfelt sympathy to Bradley’s surviving family members, to his classmates and instructors at (University of Guelph), to his friends and to the Oshawa community and all those who knew him and his family.”

Police identified the shooter as a relative of the family, 48-year-old Mitchell Lapa, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police say he was uninvited at the family home.

A GoFundMe account had raised more than $130,000 in support of the family.

(With files from Michael Swan)

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