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‘Touch hearts of killers’

By Cecily Asson Sunday, December 29 2013

TO the backdrop of the bells tolling loudly at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church, Harris Promenade in San Fernando “in sadness” for 28 children who were reportedly killed this year in the country, parish priest Monsignor Christian Pereira openly called on God for the protection of the nation’s children and also for conversion of the child killers.

The church yesterday celebrated the annual Feast of the Holy Innocents which is recognised worldwide among Catholics and Anglicans. On December 28, the church celebrates the memory of the small children of the neighbourhood of Bethlehem who were put to death by Herod.

Yesterday, at the beginning of the 9 am service, the church bell was rung 14 times, one toll each for every child that was murdered in the country and at 3 pm yesterday, another 14 bells were tolled, completing the memory of the 28 children who died violently at the hands of adults.

Scores of children attended the service yesterday with their Christmas gifts in hand and accompanied by their parents and guardians. They joined Pereira in public prayer not only for their own safety, but that of their parents and teachers and leaders. Their gifts were later blessed by Deacon Roy Raghuanan. Addressing them earlier, Pereira reminded the large congregation that “many children are not here today because adults killed them and speaking directly to the young ones he explained why the bells were being rung. He said: “We are going to ring the bells and when the bells are ringing we are going to think of somebody who died over the last year and ask God to bless them. Too many sad things have happened,” Pereira told them. “Let us think of the children who have left us, who were killed, who were murdered, we feel sorry for them.”

As Pereira continued in prayer he asked that God protect all the children from violence and abuse. “We are sad that so many of our children have died in such a bad way over the last year,” he said.” Then he begged for conversion of the killers.

“Those people who killed them,” he prayed, “those persons who did such terrible things we ask you to touch their hearts, convert them.” And almost as if making an apology, he added: “and those children whom you sent into the world and who were driven out of the world by our badness, by our sinfulness and wrongdoing we ask you Lord to bless those children”

He then pleaded in prayer for the society to love one another “especially to love our children.”

For those who hate, Pereira prayed that “God may touch their hearts and fill them with love,” those affected by violence, he prayed that “they may find peace and love,” while to the many grieving parents, “who have lost their young children, he asked that they may find comfort.”

Christmas carols were sung by young siblings of the Howell-Paul family while young members of the church dramatised the 14 Stations of the Crib which told the Christmas story from the beginning when the angel visited the Virgin Mary to tell of her conception.

Next door, St Paul’s Anglican Church also held their service. Students from the Marabella Boys’ and Girls’ Primary Anglican School, Anstey Girls’ and Anstey Boys’ Memorial Primary School and children of the Mothers Union Childrens Home participated in the celebrations. Canon Francis Caesar officiated yesterday.

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