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St. Bernardine mourns parishioner caught in crossfire of shootout

Carolyn McFadden, a parishioner of St. Bernardine in Baltimore, died Jan. 18 after being shot earlier this month outside her apartment complex. (Courtesy Kim Fleet)

A longtime parishioner of St. Bernardine Church in West Baltimore died Jan. 18 after being shot earlier this month outside her apartment complex, apparently caught in the crossfire as she smoked a cigarette.

Carolyn McFadden, 73, had been a parishioner of St. Bernadine for more than 30 years and served as a eucharistic minister, according to her pastor, Monsignor Richard Bozzelli.

On Jan. 20, more than 200 people, including McFadden’s fellow parishioners and members of St. John the Evangelist Church in Columbia, honored her at a prayer walk held each year on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Bishop Denis Madden, who leads monthly prayer walks in city neighborhoods affected by violence, also attended.

“It’s devastating to us. We are in a neighborhood where there has been violence and we’ve been most typically touched by it,” Monsignor Bozzelli said. “She was just the innocent bystander. I mean, she was just minding her own business, smoking a cigarette outside of her apartment building and got caught in crossfire.”

On Jan. 6, Baltimore police said McFadden was on the 1800 block of Hollins Avenue when she was shot in the stomach as two men ran by shooting at each other. She died Saturday morning at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Police are still investigating the shooting and currently do not have any suspects.

Her friend Regina Pollitt said she worked with McFadden at the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn and started attending church at St. Bernadine in the early 1970s.

“She always had you laughing about things,” Pollitt said. “She was funny. She was also very into church. She came to church every Mass, every Sunday or Saturday, depending on which ones she wanted to attend. She was a good person. Yeah, she was a little crazy, but she was very nice, and she wouldn’t hurt anybody about anything.”

Pollitt was touched by the tribute to McFadden on Monday, which included a Mass and potluck after the walk. Because she has issues walking distances, Pollitt said stayed inside the church and prayed the rosary for her friend.

“It hurt me more than it frightened me,” she said of the shooting. “It’s sad that these people are just shooting out in the air and don’t care who they hit or where they hit them. That bothered me more than anything. Just the fact that they’re just shooting and she’s simply doing what she does.”

A viewing will be held at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Wylie Funeral Home at 701 N. Mount St. A memorial service will follow the viewing at 4 p.m. She is survived by her daughter, Kim Fleet.

Email Tim Swift at tswift@catholicreview.org