The Abraham Conference Organising Committee held a multi-faith prayer vigil on Thursday 2 May 2024 at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta to remember and honour the victims of recent violence in Sydney. 

The Abraham Conference began in 2002 in recognition of the common heritage of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam with the objective to build respectful interfaith relations through its annual conference.  

For the vigil, the organising committee gathered believers not only from the Abrahamic faiths but people of all faiths, to pray for the victims of the stabbings in Bondi, for Bishop Emmanuel of the Assyrian Orthodox Church in Wakeley, and the victims of domestic violence.  

The vigil began with representatives from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths lighting and holding a candle together while announcing the word “peace” in Hebrew (shalom), Latin (pax vobiscum) and Arabic (salam) to the 50 attendees present.

This was followed by readings from their respective scriptures as well as prayers for compassion and healing, each followed by a moment of silence. Representatives from the Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Sikh faiths then offered prayers of peace.

In his welcome address, Chair of the Abraham Conference Organising Committee, Uniting Church minister Rev Dr Manas Ghosh, said: 

“Today we have gathered here not just as people of Abrahamic faith but people of all faiths in response to a string of violence that has taken place in recent time […] 

“As members of one human family we are shocked, grieved and disturbed by these violent incidents and loss of human lives. We are also saddened by the violence that has been inflicted on the police officers in Wakeley who were doing their duty in upholding peace.  

“Today with one voice we condemn and reject all forms of violence, and offer our deepest condolences and sympathies to those who are grieving for the loss of their loved ones and our prayers for those who have been injured.    

“As leaders and representatives of our own faith communities, we continue to call for calm and peace. By extending friendship, love, care, and compassion to others, we all can play a role in healing the hurt and brokenness of our communities.” 

During times of uncertainty and unrest, multi-faith gatherings bring together believers from different religions to unite in their shared commitment to harmony and justice.

Interfaith dialogue and friendship hold a light to what is inherent to all faiths – love and compassion for all.  

Many of the attendees at the vigil expressed their gratitude for a gathering of so many diverse faiths to share in prayer for all those affected by recent tragedies, and for its example of harmony and unity.  

Kim Chong is the Media & Community Liaison at the Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations.