More than 400 people from all different faiths traditions gathered together for a prayer service in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral yesterday to show their support to those affected by the Christchurch tragedy.
Following each prayer a candle was lit by the representative of the faith community. The national anthem of New Zealand was also played as a sign of respect to those who lost their lives in the Christchurch shootings.
The service, which was attended by the Governor of South Australia the Hon. Hieu Van Le AC, provided an opportunity for ‘lament, solidarity and shared prayer’ as well as a ‘recommitment to interfaith harmony’.
In welcoming the guests, Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ, said the Catholic communities of South Australia wanted to express to their Muslim brothers and sisters “our own feelings of distress and horror at the murder of the Muslim people in the Christchurch mosques”.
“That such tragedies could be enacted in the midst of a society so similar to our own, and so close to ourselves, or indeed in any society, is alarming and horrifying,” he said.
“These victims were at prayer. They had come together in their weekly devotion to bow in adoration before the Author of all life and the Father of us all. May the God of compassion and mercy welcome now His sons and daughters, murdered in His holy place, into the joy of His presence.
“May the love of God ease the pain and trauma of the loss of loved ones in that community. We offer our prayers to intercede for them. We express our heartfelt sympathy to our Muslim brothers and sisters, and we are aghast that people of faith are targeted in such a way and with such terrible motives.
“Please accept our heartfelt sympathy, and our expressions of distress that such good people seeking to live a life of peace and justice suffered such an atrocity at evil hands.
May God grant us all the grace of healing.”
Following the service Bishop O’Kelly expressed his thanks and gratitude to those people from so many faith communities who attended the service at relatively short notice, to “pray for religious harmony and for the victims of Christchurch”.