HomeNewsEdinburgh-based priest among first on scene after Sydney attacks

Edinburgh-based priest among first on scene after Sydney attacks

IN the aftermath of a devastating knife attack at the Bondi Junction Westfield shopping centre in Sydney – Father Ninian Doohan was one of the first on the scene.

The tragic event, which resulted in the deaths of seven people and injuries to a dozen others, including a nine-month-old baby, has resonated deeply with the Catholic community across the globe.

Fr Doohan was temporarily serving at St. Patrick’s Church in Bondi, for holiday cover, his main parish is St. Patrick’s in Edinburgh’s Cowgate. His presence at the scene shortly after the attack due to a delayed train meant that he was one of the first to provide spiritual support and comfort to those affected.

During the Sunday Mass following the attack, Fr Doohan addressed his congregation, many of whom were directly affected by the tragedy. His homily focused on forgiveness, mercy, and the Christian duty to be present in moments of suffering. The Edinburgh priest shared his profound feelings of responsibility and connection to the tragedy, noting, “the only thing that sounds clear in my mind is that God put me in close proximity of horror and tragedy so that therefore I can be with one with you, and with them, and not an outsider to it.”

The incident has sparked a wave of solidarity and support from Catholics around the world, including a special message from Pope Francis to the Sydney community, expressing his spiritual closeness and offering prayers for the victims and their families.

“Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the violent attack in Sydney, and he sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all affected by this senseless tragedy, especially those who are now mourning the loss of a loved one,” read a telegram sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, on behalf of the Pope.

Daniel Ang, director of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation at the Archdiocese of Sydney, offered solidarity and spiritual support in a statement on social media.

“We join in prayer for the victims and families affected by the horrific events at Bondi Junction today,” he said. “The three Sunday Masses at the Catholic parish of Bondi tomorrow will be offered for the repose of the souls that have passed away and all those others affected by these events.”

Acting Premier of New South Wales, Penny Sharpe, described the attack as “extremely distressing” and committed to keeping the public informed as developments occur.

The investigation continues, with the Australian Federal Police working together with local law enforcement agencies.

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