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Australia remembers tsunami victims

Across the nation during yesterday's official day of mourning - timed to exactly three weeks after the earthquake and tsunami began its path of destruction, killing more than 160,000 people - Australians took a moment to pause and remember in their own different ways the lives lost and communities destroyed.

AT precisely 11.59am yesterday (Eastern Standard Summer Time), the upbeat bustle of a typical summer Sunday came to an abrupt standstill.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, offered prayers for the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami with other religious and political leaders at an interfaith memorial service in Sydney.

In reflecting on the National Day of Mourning, Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, says "Once again we are united in prayer for those who have lost loved ones, those who continue the desperate search for family and friends and those who are trying to rebuild their homes and lives. We also remember those who are working so hard administering aid and helping in the aftermath of the tragedy."

In Adelaide, thousands gathered to remember a shocking few weeks with not only the tsunami but last week's Black Tuesday bushfires on the Eyre Peninsula.

Catholic Archbishop Phillip Wilson said the scale of the disaster had caused many to question God.

"I know how people question God when terrible things happen to people around the world," he said.

In Perth, mourners carpeted the foreshore with petals at the end of an hour-long service that brought together leaders of the Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu and Christian communities.

They spoke of the millions affected by the tragedy and of the "tsunami of compassion and hope" that had arisen in its aftermath.

At Perth's St Mary's Cathedral, 15 candles were lit, each representing 10,000 lives lost.

More than 200 people attended a multi-faith service at Hobart Town Hall. The memorial service included prayers and readings from representatives of the Buddhist, Jewish, Catholic, Anglican, Muslim and Baha'i faiths.

In the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Auxilary Bishop Pat Power had written a letter to all parishes "Encouraging people just to pray in solidarity with other Australians on this national day of mourning."

Archbishop Carroll, the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, last week invited all churches across the nation to observe the day by including special prayers and homilies in their weekend Masses.

"Parishes have been asked to observe the day in the way best suited to their circumstances, remembering those who have died and with a focus on prayer for those who have suffered so grievously in this natural disaster," Archbishop Carroll said.

"As the nation pauses to reflect this weekend, let us remember those who have died and stand in solidarity with those who have suffered, praying for them and recommitting ourselves to assisting in their long-term recovery."

"This is also an opportunity to give thanks for the outpouring of generosity we have witnessed in recent weeks as donations to aid agency appeals continue to climb."

Archbishop Carroll said the Catholic relief agency, Caritas Australia, had been overwhelmed with the generosity of donors, both from people in parishes and from the wider community.

"Through its partners on the ground in affected countries, Caritas Australia was able to immediately begin responding to this humanitarian disaster," he said.

Archbishop Carroll said those partnerships with local organisations would ensure that vital aid got to where it was most needed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Caritas was also committed to helping communities recover in the long term, and its programs would be ongoing, he said.

"At times like this we receive a stark reminder of our common humanity and we understand with greater clarity that the suffering of our brothers and sisters affects us all," Archbishop Carroll said.

(Picture: Tsunami survivor Alyna Rost, of Sydney, pauses to reflect. Source: Nation unites in silent tribute (The Australian 16/1/05))

Nation stops to remember (The Australian 17/1/05)
East, West lament the ocean's toll (The West Australian 17/1/05)
Tassie pauses to mourn victims (The Mercury 17/1/05)
Interfaith memorial (Catholic Weekly 16/1/05)
Denominations unite to remember tsunami disaster (ABC News 16/1/05)
Catholics mark National Day of Mourning with special prayers for victims of Asia earthquake (Archdiocese of Sydney Media Release 13/1/05)
Catholic churches to observe National Day of Mourning in solidarity with those who have suffered (Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference 13/1/05)

Caritas Australia Asian Eathquake/Tsunami Appeal

Australians to remember tsunami victims (CathNews 14/1/05)
Inter-faith prayer for tsunami victims in Phuket (CathNews 7/1/05
Stronger faith builds in the wake of disaster (CathNews 6/1/05)
Australian Church sends prayers and support to tsunami victims (CathNews 4/1/05)

Clerics warn against blaming God (The Australian 17/1/05)
Finding comfort in the prayers of others (Sydney Morning Herald 17/1/05)
Silence and prayer for those who died (The Age 17/1/05)
Sri Lankan Community Mass, Chatswood tribute to victims (Catholic Weekly 16/1/05)
Compassion on show at SA services (ABC News 16/1/05)
Brisbane mourners hope good will come of tsunami (ABC News 16/1/05)
Concerts, church services for tsunami victims (ABC News 16/1/05)
Victorians reflect on tsunami disaster (ABC News 16/1/05)
Catholic Priest Killed in Indonesia (Zenit 14/1/05)
Vatican invites Tsunami victims to solemn Mass (Catholic News Agency 14/1/05)
Tsunami relief: (Canadian) Catholic parishes raise at least $7 million in special national collection (Catholic News Agency 14/1/05)
Cardinal Rigali urges (US) government to allow Indonesians facing deportation to stay (Catholic News Agency 14/1/05)
US cardinal impressed by Sri Lankan resilience (Catholic News Agency 14/1/05)
Scottish Catholics raise over a million for tsunami survivors (Independent Catholic News 14/1/05)
Caritas Collects $63 Million to Aid South East Asia (Zenit 14/1/05)

17 Jan 2005