Catholic churches around New Zealand remember Christchurch one year on from earthquake

Tomorrow Catholic churches around New Zealand will remember and pray for those who died, were injured or have suffered as a result of the Christchurch earthquake on 22 February 2011.

Parishes will mark the anniversary in different ways, including offering prayers for those affected by the earthquake, stopping for a minute’s silence at 12.51pm, tolling church bells, and lighting candles for victims of the earthquake.

At the Civic Memorial Service in North Hagley Park, Catholic Bishop of Christchurch, Bishop Barry Jones, will introduce two minutes’ silence at 12.51pm and conclude this with a prayer for victims and all those affected by the earthquake. Watch video.

Prayer read by Bishop Barry Jones

O God whose mercies are without number,
and whose treasure and goodness is infinite,
graciously increase the faith of your people
that all may grasp and rightly understand
by whose love they have been created.
Your Son Jesus has taught us
to open our hearts to you in sincere prayer.
Today after one year,
we commend to your love and mercy
all those whose lives have been changed forever
by the earthquake of 22 February 2011.
We commend to your mercy
those who lost their lives in that terrible time.
We remember too,
those who were evacuated in great stress
from city rest homes
and who have since departed this life.
Grieving and distraught families, friends and workmates
entered thereby into a time of sadness,
loneliness and heartbreak.
Have mercy on them all O God.
We commend also to you those living survivors
who bear wounds and scars and injuries
both visible and invisible
from the earthquakes which have continued to oppress us.
May their trust and confidence in you never fail,
but rather grow to be strong and life-giving
for themselves and for those close to them.
Your Son Jesus
showed himself to be the physician of souls.
May those burdened by fear, anxiety,
worry and hopelessness,
know your healing hand.
Many of our people Lord carry painful memories
of building and structures falling,
and persons being crushed and trapped.
Have mercy on them and grant them peace.
We pray in Jesus' name

Bishop Jones says he has a lot of admiration for “the resilience and determination of Cantabrians” since last year’s earthquake and that it is important not to forget the ongoing suffering many are experiencing.

“There are people who are suffering mentally, afraid of another earthquake and how they might cope. Others are suffering physically and struggling to adapt to life with injuries or missing limbs. Some people are waiting for answers about the future of their houses or have been evacuated from rest homes and are away from their friends, families and networks. We need to pray for these people and open our hearts to God”.

The anniversary coincides with Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent, the annual Christian penitential season that ends on Easter Day. Those who wish will be able to receive the ashes, which are marked on the forehead in the form of a cross and symbolise undying hope in the midst of loss and suffering.

Joint Anglican and Catholic service
St Paul’s Cathedral (cnr Hill & Molesworth Streets)

Joint Anglican and Catholic services
The Anglican Cathedral (446 Parnell Road)
St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral (43 Wyndham Street)

Joint Anglican and Catholic service
St Mary's Pro-Cathedral (373 Manchester Street)