Archbishop invites Sydneysiders to prayers for Sri Lanka

    With Sri Lankan Catholic Chaplain Fr Chaminda Wanigasena (third from left) watching, a member of Sydney’s Sri Lankan community lights a candle at an interfaith service at the Uniting Church in Blacktown on Tuesday evening. Fr Wanigasena is pictured lighting a candle on the webpage link to this story. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

    Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has invited all to join him in praying for the victims of the Sri Lankan Easter Sunday bombings at a special Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney.

    The Mass will commence at 5.30pm on Friday 26 April and will be followed by a candlelight vigil in St Mary’s Cathedral forecourt.

    The world has been shocked by the carnage. Estimates of the death toll have climbed every day with the latest figures released by the Sri Lankan Government confirming 321 people killed and approximately 500 wounded by the multiple bombings which targeted Christian churches and hotels.

    Archbishop Fisher said he hopes the Mass and vigil can offer comfort to those still grieving after the Easter Sunday attacks.

    “Our Easter joy has been tempered by sorrow and even anger at the deliberate targeting of Catholics and other Christians as they gathered in prayer”, Archbishop Fisher said.

    “We will come together on Friday, calling on God’s loving care for the families of the victims, the people of Sri Lanka and the Catholic community worldwide during this difficult time”.

    The Mass will bring together members of the Sri Lankan Catholic community in Sydney, led by their chaplain, Fr Chaminda Wanigasena, a Sri Lankan community choir and diplomatic representatives from the Sri Lankan Embassy and Consul General.

    A collection will also be taken up during the Mass with all proceeds to be sent directly to the Catholic Archdiocese of Colombo to support families of those killed or injured in the bombings.

    Related: Tears and prayers for Sri Lanka

    The Sri Lankan Government has named a little-known and apparently recently-formed Islamist organisation, National Thowheeth Jama’ath, as one of possibly two Islamist groups responsible for the bombings.

    It is believed the group had been penetrated by ISIS, which issued a statement after the bombings claiming responsibility for the attacks.

    An Australian woman and her daughter who were killed in the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka had planned to move back to Melbourne next year.

    Manik Suriaaratchi and her 10-year-old daughter Alexendria were killed when a bomb exploded in a church in Negombo, north of Colombo.

    For those unable to attend Fridays’ Mass, the ceremony will be live-streamed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiXjMG5ms48.