BY Ian Dunn | May 25 2017 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Prayers for Manchester and Barra

Vigils unite communities after suicide bomber kills dozens at pop concert - By Ian Dunn and Amanda Connelly

Pope Francis has lead Catholics around the world in praying for the victims of the suicide bombing in Manchester this week—as the Church offered support to the isle of Barra which is mourning after the attack left one girl from the island dead and another seriously injured.

22 people, including an eight-year-old girl, were killed and 59 injured when a suicide bomber attacked concert-goers at Manchester Arena. A man set off a bomb in the foyer at 22:33pm on May 22 at the end of a concert by the American popstar Ariana Grande. It is the worst UK terror attack since the London bombings on July 7 2005, in which 56 people were killed.

Barra mourns

Eilidh MacLeod, 14, from Barra has been confirmed among those killed in Monday’s attack. Her friend and fellow Castlebay Community School pupil, Laura MacIntyre, 15, is in hospital with serious injuries.

Bishop Brian McGee of Argyll and the Isles Diocese has travelled to Barra to support the community of the traditionally Catholic island. He joined local parish priest Fr John Paul Mackinnon in visiting relatives of both girls and celebrating Mass for the families this morning. After Mass the bishop and Fr Mackinnon visited Castlebay high school to speak to teachers and staff.

Bishop McGee said it was ‘a time of terrible anguish for the MacLeod and MacIntyre families.’

“Spending time with the relatives of both girls was a reminder of the human cost of acts of terror,” he said. “Such acts leave families broken, lives scarred and innocence destroyed. My thoughts and prayers are with the families at this traumatic time.”

Fr Mackinnon said: “Barr is an island of close bonds and deep Faith. The ripples of pain spreading out from the terrible events in Manchester on Monday night are amplified here in such a small community. While everyone in the community is affected, it is the families of Eilidh and Laura who are in the greatest pain. The Church joins with the whole community in praying for them and offering them every support.”

Pope prays

A message from Pope Francis said he was ‘deeply saddened’ by the attack. “His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the barbaric attack in Manchester, and he expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence,” the message released by the Vatican said.

“Mindful in a particular way of those children and young people who have lost their lives, and of their grieving families, Pope Francis invokes God’s blessings of peace, healing and strength upon the nation.”

Vigil for victims

Thousands of people gathered in Manchester for a vigil for the victims the night after the attack. Bishop John Arnold of the local Salford Diocese said the attack ‘can have no justification.’

“We must all commit ourselves to working together, in every way, to help the victims and their families and to build and strengthen our community solidarity,” he said.

A smaller vigil took place in Glasgow (above) the same evening. Archbishop Philip Tartaglia said: “I was horrified and distressed by the death, injury and chaos caused by the violent atrocity at the Manchester Arena.

“I pray for those who were killed, for the injured, for the families and friends, and for everyone involved. Random killing and maiming of human beings is abhorrent to God and to man. The only way is the way of love and peace and justice.”

Eyewitness account

A pupil at Our Lady’s High School in Motherwell was at the concert and has spoken about the moment the bomb went off. 14-year-old Lucy Haggerty said she thought she was ‘going to die’ as chaos ensued inside the Manchester Arena.

The teenager had travelled to Manchester with mum Louise for the Ariana Grande concert—part of a trip Lucy had received for Christmas.

“About 30 seconds after the house lights came on, there was a massive bang,” Lucy said. “It was the scariest moment of my life. People were climbing on top of each other, jumping down tiers, climbing barriers and trying to get out the doors as fast as they could.

“There were some points I thought I was going to lose my mum, but we somehow managed to stick together.”


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