When Dallas McGowan, a fifth-grader at St. Elizabeth of Hungary School in Altadena, found out his best friend and classmate Mario Ramirez had been shot, he was, according to his mother Denise, “shocked.”

Recently Mario was caught in the crossfire of a shooting outside his house. He was hit by several bullets and rushed to the hospital. His injuries were life-threatening, doctors said.

Kids being far more plugged in than their parents, Dallas knew the horrible news before Denise and made a simple request.

“He asked me, ‘Can you pray with me?’ ”

He said he wanted to pray for his friend but also for guidance since, as he put it, “I don’t know how to feel.”

Prayer, parents and teachers will tell you, is as much a part of student life at St. Elizabeth as spelling tests and sports. 

“This is a parish that prays,” said Laura Navarette, a fifth-grade room parent and friend of the Ramirez family. Her daughter, Yael, and Mario are friends. 

“Every morning, students are asked, “Does anybody have anything to pray about?’ They prayed the rosary this summer because of COVID. They learn from the start that if there’s something going on in their lives, they are able to pray about it and pray together. They are very close.

“So when this happened to Mario and his family, we did things like create a donation bank and made cards, but, from the beginning, we prayed.”

Indeed, the St. Elizabeth community has done the other things you’d expect in support of Mario and his family. They helped start a GoFundMe page to help pay for Mario’s medical expenses, including for the extensive rehabilitation therapy that he’s expected to need. They have organized drives to make gift baskets for the family and, more recently, students were asked to create art of the Lakers’ LeBron James to give to Mario — fitting since, on his GoFundMe page, Mario is holding a basketball, wearing a James jersey, and flashing a big smile.

A few days ago, while fifth-grade class was being conducted on Zoom, one of St. Elizabeth’s students glanced down to see he had a call. It was Mario. The kid who was facing life-threatening injuries was now well enough to chat with a friend. The friend soon told the rest of the class that Mario was on the phone and put him on speaker.

“They all talked to him, they needed to hear him, and he needed to hear them,” room parent Laura said. 

As Mario begins his long recovery, Pasadena Police are investigating “tirelessly” to find those responsible for the shooting. 

“This case is a priority for the Pasadena Police department,” Pasadena Police Lt. Carolyn Gardon told Angelus when asked about the investigation. 

Meanwhile, Mario’s classmates are discovering how much prayer is capable of binding them together. 

“Without prayer, this could have turned out much different,” Laura said. “The kids are holding on to their faith like you cannot believe and it is making the difference.

“Prayer does move mountains.”

Full story at Angelus News.