April 26, 2019 — Hundreds of Sri Lankan-Canadians in Toronto were ready to observe Easter on Sunday, when they found out about attacks on several churches and hotels in their home country. Given the news of the bombings, which killed over 350 people and injured many others, they instead prayed for victims and their families.
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“The mood completely turned from a celebratory mood to trying to find out whether their family members were OK, whether relatives were OK,” said Our Lady of Good Health parishioner Jude Aloysius, as reported by The Catholic Register.
Theologian Fr. Joseph Chandrakanthan has been in touch with old friends in Sri Lanka and found the community there reeling. “There is a deep sense of fear and a sense of despair,” Chandrakanthan stated. “Particularly because of the day on which it has happened… It was human cruelty and horror that has taken away their whole sense of hope and trust.”
Services in Toronto
Different services were organized by parishes in Toronto. On April 25, the Tamil community gathered for an interfaith vigil at Our Lady of Lourdes at 5:30 p.m. The “Ring of Peace” service surrounded the church and offered prayers from Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Anglican and other Toronto faith leaders.
That same evening Tamil-Canadians also congregated at Immaculate Heart of Mary for a memorial Mass with Cardinal Thomas Collins presiding.
“The slaughter of innocent families in a place of worship is particularly heinous,” the Cardinal said in a statement issued by the Archdiocese of Toronto. “I invite all of the faithful in the Archdiocese of Toronto to lift our collective voices in prayer for the hundreds killed and injured.”
Pope Francis demands peace
On Easter Sunday, thousands of faithful joined Pope Francis as he reiterated his closeness to the people of Sri Lanka following the terrorist attacks. “I pray for the numerous victims and injured,” he said, “and I ask everyone not to hesitate to offer this dear nation all the necessary help. I also hope that everyone will condemn these terrorist acts, inhuman acts, that are never justifiable.”
Speaking to a large crowd in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square, the Pope also said he was very close to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and Archdiocese of Colombo, the capital, and prayed for the numerous victims and wounded.