More than 200 people turned out for an interfaith service of unity and prayer at Christ Church Cathedral in the nation’s capital Sunday in response to the Oct. 22 attack that left two people dead including a gunman, and paralyzed much of downtown Ottawa.
“It’s wonderful to see so many people of faith gathered together after the traumatic, horrific events on Wednesday, unified as one,” said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, one of several speakers at the service. “We’re here to support one another during what has been a very difficult week for our community. By being here you show that although we have been shaken, we’re still strong and will remain so.”
Dean Shane Parker of the Cathedral said the public “Prayer for Ottawa” service was aimed at creating an atmosphere of “unity, prayerful resolve and hope as we collectively come to terms with the affront and tragedy.”
Ottawa’s police chief, Jewish and Muslim leaders, the Chaplain-General of the Canadian Forces and others offered condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, killed by a masked gunman while standing guard at the National War Memorial. His funeral is to be held Oct. 28 at Christ’s Church (Anglican) Cathedral in Hamilton, Ont.
The gunman, identified by police as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was later shot to death after he stormed the centre block of Parliament Hill and wounded a guard.
At the somber prayer service, Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said the members of Ottawa’s police service along with emergency service partners “are committed to protecting this community and all residents in its districts.” He also asked people to be vigilant and to report suspicious incidents by calling police. “We ask you to pay attention to your own community members who may be vulnerable to the ideas of organizations that promote hatred and violence,” he added. “Standing strong against any word or action that promotes violence or hatred is the only stand that we should be taking.”
Padre John Fletcher, Chaplain General to the Canadian Forces, led the gathering in prayers, Rabbi Barry Schlesinger of the Agudath Israel Congregation gave a Talmudic reading, Imam Samy Metwally from the Ottawa Main Mosque read from the Quran, and Canon Catherine Ascah of Christ Church Cathedral read from the Gospel of Matthew. Abdul Rashid, co-chair of Interfaith Ottawa, read a statement of support from the Capital Region Interfaith Council.
Bishop John Chapman gave the benediction at the end of the hour-long service that included three motets by the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, directed by Matthew Larkin. Retired RCMP Staff Garth Hampson was the soloist for the singing of O Canada, as arranged by Larkin. Hampson’s son, Piper Sgt. Brad Hampson of the Ottawa Police service played Road to the Isles.