St Patrick’s Cathedral Melbourne was one of many buildings around the world to be lit up red on Wednesday as a large congregation showed prayerful solidarity with the millions of Christians persecuted for their faith. Source: Melbourne Catholic/Facebook.
Hundreds gathered at St Patrick’s for Night of the Witnesses, an initiative of Aid to the Church in Need, where the stories of 12 different martyrs from various parts of the world were shared.
Due to ongoing hostilities in the region, His Beatitude Joseph Absi (Patriarch of Antioch and All the East for Melkite Greek Catholics), could not speak at the Melbourne event and was instead represented by Bishop George Bacouni of Beirut, who relayed a message from His Beatitude:
“I want to express my profound gratitude for your committed support to Aid to the Church in Need,” the message said. “Your dedication to standing beside the Church in the Middle East is a beacon of hope and a testament to the power of solidarity. Your generosity and prayers are making a meaningful impact and I encourage you to continue your noble efforts.”
Also speaking at St Patrick’s Cathedral was Sr Majella Dogonyaro OP, a Dominican Sister of Catherine of Siena based in Gusau, Northern Nigeria.
There are many parts of her country in which she cannot travel wearing her religious veil for fear of being kidnapped or killed, Melbourne Catholic reported. She has been forced into hiding in her own village as militant Islamist forces hunted her, and while more than 50,000 Nigerian Christians have been killed by Islamist extremists in the past 14 years, many have also spent their lives hiding their faith.
A number of churches and cathedrals in other Australian dioceses also took part in the Night of Witnesses by lighting their churches red and having special services.
‘Christ is everything’: faith and suffering in Lebanon and Nigeria (By Christian Bergmann, Melbourne Catholic, with excerpts from Archdiocese of Melbourne Facebook)
Red Wednesday: Broken Bay to join in global prayer for persecuted Christians (Diocese of Broken Bay)