Faiths come together in special MH17 service to share grief

PEOPLE from all faiths will unite for a commemorative church service to be held for the victims of the MH17 plane tragedy in Ballarat this Saturday. 

Commemoration: Father Chris Chataway will lead a service to pay respect to the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Commemoration: Father Chris Chataway will lead a service to pay respect to the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

The special 45-minute service will be held at the Anglican Cathedral Church of Christ the King by Dean of Ballarat Father Chris Chataway. 

About 298 people travelling on a Malaysia Airlines flight to Kuala Lumpur were killed after the plane they were travelling in was shot down over the Ukraine on Thursday morning. 

Anglican Bishop of Ballarat Garry Weatherill will address the service, which will include hymns, two statements and prayer. 

All victims of the tragedy will have their names mentioned and a candle lit in their memory during the service. 

Father Chataway said the idea for the united service came from Malaysian-born parishioner Martin Gunasilan. Mr Gunasilan, who has lived in Ballarat for eight years, said he wanted to bring people together to mourn and support one another. 

“We have a lot of young families in Ballarat and we want to teach them that war is not everything,” he said. 

“We need to come together and I want people to be able to pay their respects as a community.”

Catholic Diocese of Ballarat Bishop Paul Bird, UnitingCare’s  Reverend Catherine Tierney, City of Ballarat  deputy mayor Des Hudson and federal Member for Ballarat Catherine King will also attend the service. 

“We want to name each person that died because they are people, not just a number,” Father Chataway said. 

Father Chataway said he had been approached by some Ballarat residents to seek guidance in light of the MH17 tragedy.

“On Sunday, we had a message (at our service) saying that we shouldn’t move quickly to blame, to find an enemy or seek retribution,” he said. 

“We need to find out what is happening, to seek justice and make sure this never happens again.”

The Anglican Cathedral Church of Christ the King commemorative service will be held at 49 Lydiard Street, Ballarat, on July 26 at 11am.

kara.irving@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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