On Monday 18 March 2019, staff and volunteers at the Edmund Rice Centre held prayers and reflection to remember those who were killed and to stand in solidarity with Muslim communities in New Zealand and Australia. The gathering was organised by Darryl Cronin, Aboriginal staff member at the Edmund Rice Centre and reflection and prayers were led by Father Claude Mostowik.
Defenceless and innocent women, children and men, fifty of them were killed and thirty four injured in the terrorist attack on Friday 15 March 2019 during prayer at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. As Waleed Ali conveyed on Network 10 ‘The Project’ on that Friday evening:
“I know exactly what those moments before the shooting began would have been like. I know how quiet, how still, how introspective those people would have been before they were suddenly gunned down…… I know the people who did this, knew well enough how profoundly defenceless their victims were in that moment. This is a congregational prayer that happens every week like clockwork”.
The terrorist attack in New Zealand could well have happened in a Mosque in Sydney. Therefore staff and volunteers at the Edmund Rice Centre want to show that we care and that we will not let hatred determine who we are as a society. We need to change the narratives of hate and intolerance that have become so mainstream in our society and which are directed at people who are different. Racism, intolerance, and fear of others can contribute to hatred, vilification and contempt and this can lead to deadly consequences. We all have a responsibility to fight hatred and intolerance not with more hate but with vigilance, wisdom, kindness, love, respect, sharing, caring and tolerance.
Sandra Elhelw Wright a young Muslim woman writes in the Sydney Morning Herald on 18 March 2019 about creating a new narrative:
“We need you to dismantle hate speech in pubs. We need you to not laugh at racist jokes. We need you more than ever, to use your votes to punish hatred and bigotry. We need you to boycott news outlets that give platforms to the enablers of Brenton Tarrant. We need you to fight extreme hate with extreme love. But we also need you to fight quiet hate with quiet love” (SMH, p. 29).
In this moment, we think about the victims and their families and we pray that after this tragedy our community, our leaders will act with love and humanity.
Peace Prayer of Saint Francis
Holy One, make us instruments of your peace:
where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine One, grant that we may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.