Preston remembers Christchurch victims

Several members from the Jesuit community in Preston, staff and parishioners of St Wilfrid’s joined over one hundred people gathered at Preston Flag Market for a Vigil to remember the victims of Christchurch terrorist attack.

The event was well attended by people from various parishes in the city, members of the Catholic community and of different faiths. The initiative was first organized by Preston Faith Forum, alongside with Preston City Council's Faith Covenant Group, during the weekend after the tragedy in New Zealand, to be held on Monday 18th March.

Trevor Hart, Mayor of Preston, and representatives of the Muslim, Jewish, and Bahai communities delivered short speeches. Members of the city council and the chair of Preston Faith Forum, Sohaib Ashraf, addressed words of solidarity. Bishop Jill, Anglican Bishop of Lancaster, who was due to give a talk at the City's weekly ecumenical Lent event that evening, spoke on behalf of the Christian community.

Matthew Brown, leader of the city council, took the opportunity to ask people to support the annual ‘Preston stands against Racism Day’ next Saturday. Jeremy Dable, a Liberal Jew from Preston's small Jewish community, former chair of Preston Faith Forum, read the Kaddish, a Jewish prayer of mourning in the original aramaic.

Geoff Thompson, Chair of St Wilfrid's Parish Council and Administrator for the National Justice and Peace Network, said “I spoke on behalf of our parish and of NJPN, inviting those of all faiths or none, who need a space of quiet to pray or think, to come to St Wilfrid's, which is open all day from 8am to 6pm, whilst they are in the city centre. I finished my address by quoting the prophet Micah, a Scripture passage adopted by NJPN, to act justly, to love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”

Over the evening, the speakers reminded that like the 2011 earthquake in the country with Christchurch as its epicentre, this attack of hatred is the epicentre of an attempt to spread fear across the whole world. The appeal is to stand together as a united community against this fear.

On Friday 15th March, the attack by far-right terror attack on two mosques in New Zealand killed fifty people, with many left wounded. Please, keep the victims and their families in your prayers.

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