Over 100 Chicagoans formed an impromptu candle-lit vigil hours after Natasha McShane’s parents learnt that their daughter might never walk or talk again.
The Irish student was beaten in the head and back with a baseball bat during an armed robbery last Friday night. She remains in a serious condition.
Her friend, Stacy Jurich, who was also viciously attacked, is in a “fair condition.”
The prayer service took place in Old St. Pat's Church. Father Karl Langsdorf led the congregation and for prayers for the victims and for the city of Chicago.
“By coming here this evening we are saying, ‘this is not acceptable: this violence should not take place. Visitors and citizens should be able to walk the streets of their city in safety, without being attacked,” he said.
Irish Consul General Martin Rouine, who spoke to the McShanes, said they are “greatly comforted by the overwhelming support from friends and strangers alike - a support that is growing daily as people read how critical her condition is.”
Her parents also said that they hold no ill will to Chicagoans.
Much of the congregation was from the tight-knit Irish community in Chicago. Amongst them were several immigrants from McShane’s hometown of Silverbridge, Armagh.
Joe McShane, who is not relation, knew the young student’s grandfather.
“When it’s someone from your hometown, it feels like it’s your own family,” he said.
Mark Campbell, a former neighbor of McShane’s immigrated to Chicago eight years ago, said the 23-year-old was enjoying her time stateside.
“Natasha was having a great time before this happened. I always felt responsible for her, because she comes from my hometown,” he said.
McShane’s parents have urged the public to “keep Natasha in your thoughts and prayers during these critical coming weeks.”
A fund has been established to aid the McShane family in their expenses and medical costs.
Donations can be sent to the Natasha McShane Care Account at North Bank, 501 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60654.