Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
September 24, 2001
Prayers for the victims
Archbishop Collins calls hijacking and attacks 'an act of darkness'
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — "Christ be our light," sang the congregation who packed St. Joseph Basilica to attend the archdiocesan liturgy commission-sponsored prayer service, Sept. 13.
"No political, religious or economic grievance — whether just or not — can justify mass murder," said Archbishop Thomas Collins who presided over the service.
"This is evil. It is an act of darkness," Collins emphasized.
The service was organized to help people grieve their loss and to pray for the victims of the Sept. 11 hijackings and attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the U.S. Pentagon.
In his homily Collins told the people the need to see and interpret the meaning of the tragic event.
"Faith allows us to see beyond the context of this life, from which these victims were brutally taken, to the fuller life, the true destination of us all."
The event leads people to reflect on human fragility and on the wizardry of technology that makes human beings become secure in an illusion of invulnerability, Collins said.
He also emphasized the importance of being attentive to the hard, cold fact of evil.
"It is not for anyone but God to know what was in the hearts of those who did this and their personal culpability, but the act is pure evil," Collins said.
"I think it is important to come together and reflect upon it and learn from it but above all to pray for the victims and the families of those who have died or were injured," Collins told the WCR.
"This is an occasion to show our love for those who have suffered so much although we are distant from them in space," he added.
For Father Gerry Gaudrault, an American priest from New Hampshire, Collins' homily "sort of took the sword out of the hands or out of the hearts of those who would be seeking revenge."
"The service kept us focused on Christ, the healer and light," said Gaudrault, a professor at Newman College and director at St. Joseph Seminary.
"I think with the awful violence and destruction that this event brought, the only way to bring a little peace to people's heart is to bring them back to the simple figure of Christ," he said.
Like others, Gaudrault took the attacks as surreal.
"No doubt there are reasons for not liking the Americans and their foreign policy, but to go to such ends and to destroy innocent lives is beyond me," Gaudrault said.
Many of the attendees do not have friends and families directly affected, but for them it is important to know there are good people in the world who try to see the wisdom behind the horrible event.
Bernadette Gasslein of the liturgy commission was overwhelmed by the attendance at the prayer service.
"I think it brought people together to pray in a way that they have been aching to pray," Gasslein told the WCR.
Bringing people together to see the faith dimension of such a shocking and horrifying event is one of the most essential things to do, said Gasslein, who was getting ready to give a workshop in Calgary when the attacks took place.
Nicole Sabourin, 29 was one of the attendees. "It is good that people get together to pray," she said.
"I just couldn't believe it. I thought it was a movie," she said about the attacks.
Teacher Kevin McGoey of Sacred Heart Catholic School shared this thought. "If it's a movie, it was a bad movie."
"It's hard to understand what would draw somebody to do something like this," McGoey said. "It is insanity," he added.
Life has changed. McGoey said that after the event he wakes up in the morning angry, upset and sad. "It's a terrible, terrible thing," he said.
If it is difficultfor adults to understand then it is doubly difficult to explain to students, said McGoey.
Edmonton Catholic Schools held a district wide prayer service, Sept. 17 and sent a letter to the U.S. president on behalf of 32,000 students and 1,700 teachers and staff.
Collection during the prayer service at the basilica amounted to $4,447.15 that was donated to the Red Cross in Edmonton.
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