On Sunday, November 29, Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart gathered to celebrate Mass with members of the communities affected by the devastating “Black Saturday” bushfires last February.
Archbishop Hart welcomed representatives of the communities impacted by the bushfires, members of local government, representatives of emergency and community services, as well as welfare organizations to the Mass.
According to the archdiocese, in memory of those who lost their lives in the natural disaster, 173 roses were placed on the steps of the Cathedral sanctuary. Family and friends of the victims took the roses home after Mass.
In his homily, Archbishop Hart prayed for those who had lost their lives during the fires, and added, “We remember with esteem and gratitude the tremendous work of people right across the community - the State Emergency Services, the Police and Fire Service, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Saint Vincent de Paul, community organizations and so many individual people who were moved by the tremendous ferocity and tragedy of the events of February seventh.”
“The paradox of all these events is that as we try and grapple with why these natural disasters seem to happen in a terrible way, they are the occasion for the emergence of the greatness of the human spirit,” he said. “It is almost as if in our daily lives we do not always comprehend the nearness and the goodness of people around us and it is only in times of disaster and great stress that our common humanity seems to triumph.”
The Archdiocese also reported that “visitors from the bushfire communities said they found consolation in the special show of support and were encouraged by the prayers of all those who attended.”
The February 7, bushfires are the worst in Australia's history to date, claiming 173 lives and producing clouds of smoke and burnt swaths across the state of Victoria that were visible from space.