It was a simple message: Only through loving kindness can we dispel hate.
More than a dozen representatives of various faiths gathered for “A Vigil for Sri Lanka” April 24 at Heinz Memorial Chapel in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood. The vigil came on the heels of Easter Sunday violence in Sri Lanka that claimed more than 250 lives.
The several hundred people in attendance heard prayers in the Roman Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, Protestant Christian, Muslim and Buddhist traditions. Msgr. Ron Lengwin offered a prayer on behalf of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
A number of reflections also were offered. “We are tired, we are trauma-filled,” said the Rev. De Neice Welch of the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network. She expressed the hope that people can find support in those around them in the community, whether they are strangers or not.
The audience included Dr. Barry Kerzin, the Dalai Lama’s personal physician. Also present was Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.
“Day by day, how you treat the people around you will make it the world you want to live in,” he told the gathering.
A word of thanks was offered from the local Sri Lankan community by Dilhari Almeida, and the gathering joined in singing the “Prayer of St. Francis.”