It is hard to know what to say tonight. It has been a day of suffering for us all. The moment the earthquake struck I went over to the school and spent time with students staff and parents. The staff did a superb job at ensuring that the children felt safe. I know that many of the staff, like me, were struggling to deal with their own uncertainty. But, despite their own anxieties, they did a superb job.
At that stage we did not know the extent of the damage. Nor did we know of loss of life.
Now, nine hours after the quake, we know that many of our citizens have died in the tragedy. We know too that many others are trapped in the ruins of buildings.
And we know that some of the most significant symbols of faith in God, and stability have been reduced to rubble. Our Catholic Cathedral has suffered significant damage as has the Anglican Cathedral.
Our Lady of Victories Church will be open 24 hours a day until further notice for prayer and sanctuary.
Tomorrow evening (Wednesday 23 February) 7.00pm Mass at our Lady of Victories will be celebrated for peace and safety in the time of earthquake. You can find details on the website at www.olv.co.nz
In the midst of this suffering we know the presence of God with us. May those who suffer most know the love and presence of God,
The opening prayer for the Mass in time of earthquakes:
God our Father
you set the earth on its foundation
Keep us safe from the danger of earthquakes
and let us always feel the presence of your love
May we be secure in your protection
and serve you with grateful hearts
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever.