A “Ring of Peace” and vigil were held in Toronto to support those affected by the Sri Lanka bombings on Easter Sunday. The multi-faith event organized by Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders was strongly supported by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A Ring of Peace typically is formed by a group of people standing shoulder to shoulder, forming a human ring around a place of worship. The ring symbolically defends the church structure, its people, the freedom to worship and freedom of religion. This Ring of Peace was the fourth organized in the Greater Toronto Area in the past two years. Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in downtown Toronto was chosen as the location because of its large Sri Lankan congregation.
Prayer for Peace
During the subsequent vigil in the chapel, Cardinal Thomas Collins of the Archdiocese of Toronto said, “We pray that the bright light of Easter will shine where there is hatred, that we may conquer hate with love, that hatred may be quenched.”
Messages of Hope
Messages of hope were also offered by the religious leaders who organized the event. Organizer Rabbi Elyse Goldstein of City Shul said, “We believe it is possible for the world to change, for human beings to grow, to hope for something better. We are living proof of those who are here today in friendship. One hundred years ago, we could not have stood together. Today we can and we do.”
Organizer Reverend Gary van der Meer of St. Anne’s Anglican Church recognized the many faiths represented at the vigil. He commented, “The great opportunity of being in a ring together is to sit beside people of a different religion. It is where the friendship between us is starting.”
Organizer Imam Shabir Ally of the Islamic Information and Dawah Centre International added, “We need to let them know we are the majority; we are people of sanity. We pray for the blessings of God for all the places of worship, for all the worshippers everywhere and for their peace and security.”
Roshanthini Paskaran from Colombo, Sri Lanka, told of her elderly grandmother and two aunts who miraculously survived the Easter Sunday terror. While she expressed intense gratitude for the lives of family members who survived, her hope was for God to comfort those whose family members did not.
Father Doug McCarthy of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish exhorted all, “To have a peaceful world, we must have it together.”
Uniting as One
Bishop Mike Quatrale of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offered, “We came together as one. Many faiths gathered to offer sincere condolences to the people of Sri Lanka. We know they are suffering. We express gratitude for one another and remember the people of Sri Lanka in our prayers as they deal with this tragedy.”
Standing together united, making new friendships and embracing our religious diversity helps us realize that the hopes and aspirations we have for ourselves and our families overlap. Although we may believe and worship differently, we choose to focus on our common desire to express faith, hope, charity and peace. These values are universally important and enable families and societies to thrive.
Read the recent statement by the Asia Area presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints following the Sri Lanka bombings.