Manchester chaplaincy responds to crisis

Candles for victims of terror attack
Candles at Holy Name for victims of terror attack

The Holy Name Church opened early this morning as the Manchester Universities Catholic chaplaincy team responded to the news of the terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena last night.

Fr William Pearsall SJ visited fellow chaplains at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, a block away from the Holy Name, to offer support, and a team of students is now cooking for anxious waiting relatives and hospital staff who are working round the clock with badly injured survivors of the bombing.

“The church is open for prayer and candles, offering a quiet space for reflection or anyone who needs it” said Fr William, “we will have extended prayers after our 1pm and 6pm masses, remembering the dead and the bereaved from this horrific attack. But we will not give in to this, we will not give in to hate or fear.”

Chaplaincy Manager Stephanie Meredith told how one economics student had been caught up in the attack “Sam has a part time job at the Arena and was there last night.  She is sitting an exam right now but she is very shaken.  Her boss in in hospital with shrapnel injuries and she doesn't know how she is.”

The chaplaincy team, along with many students,  will be attending the vigil in Albert Square at 6pm tonight.  An initiative of Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham, the vigil is being organised with the help of Greater Manchester Citizens (GMC)  which organises communities to act together for power, social justice and the common good.  GMC was instigated just a year ago by Fr Tim Byron SJ with a range of other local agencies and faith organisations, and is based at the Holy Name Church. 

“In some senses we set up Citizens because of the danger of an event like this threatening community cohesion in Manchester” said Fr Tim this morning echoing the GMC response “ We will not let hatred divide us; we will stand together regardless of our faith or political allegiance and work for the common good”.