Parishioners from across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains have come together on 19 May for a memorial Mass following the recent bombings in Sri Lanka.
On Easter Sunday explosions killed over 250 people and injured more than 450 at a range of locations including three religious centres – St Sebastian’s in Negombo, St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo and Zion Church in Batticaloa.
A Month’s Mind Requiem Mass is a Catholic tradition in South Asia which is typically celebrated one month after a person’s death and is held in memory of the deceased.
The Mass was celebrated by Fr Chris de Souza at St Nicholas of Myra Parish, Penrith. Fr Joe Manjaly, parish priest, St Nicholas of Myra Parish, and Fr Gayan Thamel, assistant priest, St Matthew’s Parish, Windsor were concelebrants of the Mass.
Pramuditha Manusinghe, from the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Sydney, represented the people of Sri Lanka at the Mass.
Around 900 people were in attendance from around the Diocese of Parramatta, and from the Archdiocese of Sydney, the Diocese of Broken Bay and the Diocese of Wollongong.
During his homily, Fr Chris said that all life is precious.
“We pray for all the deceased – both victims and perpetrators – as we are all made in God’s image and likeness. In all religions – be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhism – the first gift of the Creator is life, and those who sin against it must be prayed for.
“All humans share life in common, regardless of their religion, and we support and stand with each other under the gift of life.
“For Christians, and particularly as Catholics, life doesn’t come to an end with death, and we pray them into eternal life,” Fr Chris said.
In the weeks following the tragedy, parishes across the Diocese of Parramatta organised memorial services for the victims, reaching out in their moments of despair.
At Padre Pio Parish, Glemore Park, Fr Suresh Kumar, parish priest, organised a memorial Mass to honour the victims on Divine Mercy Sunday, 28 April.
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy was sung before the Mass, and prayers were said for the victims, their families, for the country and for peace.
Farley Bartholomeuz, a member of the Padre Pio Finance Committee and acolyte, said that the memorial Mass was a sign of unity.
“It was a very solemn and moving Mass. It gave us an outlet to share our grief.
“We mostly had parishioners in attendance, but there were visitors to our parish from across the Diocese of Parramatta, from the Archdiocese of Sydney and from as far as Campbelltown and the Blue Mountains.
“The Mass gave us a sense of belonging to the countries we come from, and also brought those from non-Sri Lankan communities together as one in prayer,” Farley said.
On Tuesday 30 April, members of the Sri Lankan community gathered at St Anthony of Padua Parish, Toongabbie, for a memorial service during the regular Tuesday night Mass.
The regular Tuesday night Mass and Novena for St Anthony is open to all parishioners, but holds special significance to members of the Indian and Sri Lankan community.
Special intentions were said to the victims of the attacks during the service, with members of the Tamil and Sinhalese communities coming together to reflect and mourn. The Mass was said in English, with prayers of the faithful in both Tamil and Sinhalese.
During the service, attendees were invited to bring a candle to the sanctuary in front of the Sri Lankan flag, wreath and map of Sri Lanka.
A collection was taken during the Mass, with proceeds to be sent to help those affected by the attacks.