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Student Prayer Vigil – Young People's inspirational response

Within days of the horrific events of Friday March 15th our young people were already calling for a response of prayer, love and unity. A group of students lead by Cashmere’s Head Boy Oki Tilaia wanted to spread the message of hope to the community in the midst of the pain that we were all experiencing.

Despite warnings of possible retaliation or further danger, thousands of young people indicated on Facebook their desire to gather, to remember and to make a stand for the future of our community. Among them were hundreds of students from every Catholic School in the city, desperate to gather. The young people were devastated when at one point it appeared that the event might be cancelled due to safety concerns. ”When will we get an opportunity to come together like this and pray with one another if we constantly give into this fear” one young woman asked.

By Monday 18th of March the all clear was confirmed by Police for the event to go ahead. Thousands of young people and supporters attended, bringing paper chains of unity from each school to place as a sign of being “more strongly connected, not torn apart” and Candles to be lit as a sign of passing on the light of hope that overcomes darkness. Inspiring words and prayers, powerful Haka and beautiful Waiata moved many of us who were present to tears. Those from older generations who attended to listen and support our youth were left with no doubt that our young people are a precious gift to us that we must cherish now, and that our future is in good hands.

Truly, we can say that ” people in darkness have seen a great light” and our young people are definitely among those shining and sharing that light with us all.

Looking for help?

If distress or stress symptoms are escalating, or you feel you are not coping, early access to help and professional support is important. Your GP is a good starting point, or for support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk it through with a trained counsellor.