St Chads Cathedral vigil for Syria and refugees attracts cross community support

Some of the invited guests at the Vigil (Picture courtesy of St Chad’s Cathedral website)

Some of the invited guests at the Vigil (Picture courtesy of St Chad’s Cathedral website)

On Tuesday 6th October, Birmingham’s St Chad’s Cathedral hosted a vigil for all the refugees that were suffering across the world and in particular Syria. The event saw people from all walks of life and faith denominations come together to show solidarity with refugees.

The Vigil was open to all. Representatives of many faiths were invited and prayers and reflections were recited on the night. The aim of the event was to remember the thousands who had died escaping war and its consequences, to recognise the plight of those who have fled and now languished in refugee camps. The formal part of the evening started at 7pm and concluded at 8.15pm followed by refreshments and an opportunity to speak to some of the refugees present and those involved in providing essential services to them. The Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Bernard Longley made the formal welcome to the Cathedral.

The Nishkam Centre Director, Amrick Singh, said ”We were glad to have been there amongst friends. The solidarity shown and the genuine heartfelt belief that together we must do something was good to see. To have talked to and heard the recollections from asylum seekers and refugees from Syria, the Ivory Coast Sudan, Eritrea, Iran and Nigeria was emotionally distressing and moving”.The essence of the prayers and hymns was to remember the refugees who had died seeking safety from conflict and those who were still suffering. The general feeling of many was they felt quite helpless yet turned to faith for solace and to pray for those affected. So far more than 2,600 migrants are known to have died crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe in 2015, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

Amrick went on to applaud the selfless service undertaken. ”The service provided across the City of Birmingham by those of faith and no faith is quite remarkable. St Chad’s Sanctuary in collaboration with the Salvation Army offers a hearty welcome and support to destitute refugees on a daily basis; the food banks providing essential supplies and the Nishkam Homeless Help project and Midland Langar Sewa providing hot vegetarian meals, is a show of that solidarity and humaneness that we desperately need to see more of. We are reminded by Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, who recently said that we should all remember, ‘I am not my brother’s keeper; I am my brother’s brother’. If we all remembered that lives of many would improve substantially.

It was evident that the refugee situation had affected people of all ages and this was evident by the diversity of ages represented at the vigil. Our very own Nishkam Primary School and Nishkam High School uniforms we clearly and proudly donned on the night.  At the beginning of the vigil the Most Reverend Bernard Longley announced to the congregation the presence of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha and Nishkam representatives and formally welcomed them. He later spoke passionately to the Nishkam School students and reminded them that St Chad’s was the Cathedral where Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh OBE received his Papal Knighthood in 2014.


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