By Sarah Mac Donald - 18 June, 2015
In his weekly General Audience on Wednesday in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis devoted his reflection to the theme of loss in the family: the pain and suffering that the passing of a family member can bring, and the duty we have to comfort and console those who mourn.
He told assembled pilgrims that “one of the more dramatic and painful events” that every person, without exception, has to deal with, is the death of a family member.
“Jesus has compassion on those who mourn because the death of a loved one is never without pain for families”, the Pontiff said and added, “This is especially true of parents who lose a child.”
His comments were made as the parents of the five Irish students and one American student who tragically lost their lives on Tuesday in Berkeley began to arrive as well as the parents of the seven other students who were seriously injured when the balcony they were standing on collapsed.
A special memorial Mass was held on Wednesday evening at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland Diocese in California for the victims and their families and friends.
In a message sent to the Primate of All Ireland, Bishop Michael Barber SJ of Oakland offered his condolences following the tragedy and said he himself would preside at the Mass.
He assured Archbishop Martin that the priests and diocesan staff in Oakland are providing all the support they can to all those affected by the tragic events.
The special memorial Mass in the Cathedral of Christ the Light was held as a way of offering prayer and consolation to all those affected by the tragedy and to remember in a special way those who have died and those who have been injured.
Fr Aidan McAleenan preached the homily. He was one of the priests who was ministering at the hospitals where the wounded were brought on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, prayers for the young students who died and those who were injured in the tragic accident will be said during the daily Eucharist in St Ann’s Church on Dawson Street, Dublin, on Thursday and Friday (18 – 19 June).
The service begins at 12.45pm each day and all who wish to join in prayer for the young people and their families are welcome to attend.
St Ann’s is open from 10am until 3pm each day if anyone wishes to pray or find a peaceful moment after signing the Book of Condolence in the Mansion House nearby.
St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, has opened a Book of Condolences for those who wish to pay their respects. The book is available to sign during cathedral opening hours – 9.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday (except during Sunday services).
A Book of Condolences will also be opened in Christ Church Cathedral on Friday morning. It will be available throughout the weekend.
Dáil Eireann was today adjourned as a mark of respect to the dead and injured in Berkeley and the flag flew at half-mast on state buildings.
A Book of Condolence will be opened at the Mansion House in Dublin city centre from 10am tomorrow morning.
The Mayor of Galway opened a Book of Condolence at 11am this morning, as did the Lord Mayor of Cork Chris O’Leary in The Atrium, City Hall.