Prayer vigil shows support for hospitalized student

Baylor community members gather Monday night in Elliston Chapel to pray for Franklin, Tenn., senior Chase Cantrell who is in critical care following an epileptic seizure. Photo credit: Liesje Powers

By Bailey Brammer | Staff Writer

A prayer vigil for Franklin, Tenn., senior Chase Cantrell was held Monday evening in Elliston Chapel. Cantrell, who has epilepsy, is in critical care at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Miss., after having a seizure early Friday morning and going without oxygen for several minutes.

The vigil was originally proposed by Katy senior Hayley Lang and Palestine junior Caleb Abernathy, and university chaplain Dr. Burt Burleson helped organize the event.

“I wanted to organize the vigil because I felt it would be a positive use of my time instead of sitting and being heartbroken about the situation,” Lang said. “I knew that his family was very religious and wanted to do something to help support and lift them up during this time.”

The gathering was broadcast live on Facebook so Cantrell’s family and friends could take part in the vigil as well.

“Baylor is always trying to be faithful to our mission to do all that we do in a caring environment,” Burleson said. “In these situations, we communicate and facilitate communication between members of the Baylor community and the family of the student in crisis. We offer support through various services on campus. We walk alongside those whose lives are being impacted, and we find ways of helping all to lean into the reality of our faith.”

Cantrell is majoring in journalism, public relations and minoring in entrepreneurship. He is a newly initiated member of Sigma Chi and is also employed at The View on 10th.

Amy Whitlock Burton, Cantrell’s cousin, said Cantrell and his mother, Nancy Cantrell, traveled to Brookhaven, Miss., for Thanksgiving to spend time with their great aunt and other cousins.

After midnight on Friday morning, Burton said a loud thump was heard and that Cantrell was unresponsive in the bathroom with the door locked after what appeared to be a seizure. The paramedics were called, and Cantrell was taken to a hospital in Brookhaven. He was then transferred to University of Mississippi Medical Center.

“Because of the lack of oxygen, his brain is swollen and he is critical,” Burton said. “Doctors aren’t giving much hope, but we believe the Great Physician is the ultimate healer.”

As of press time Monday, Cantrell was still in critical condition with the beginnings of kidney failure but has been responding to touch and song with movement, family members said. Cantrell’s stepmother, April Weller Cantrell, said in a Facebook post that the family has been touched by the support of her stepson’s friends.

“We been so moved by the out pouring of love and prayers for Chase,” Weller Cantrell wrote. “We and his family know how very special he is, but it’s uplifting to know he is so widely loved and respected.”