Members of the French community praying during the memorial Mass at St Francis Xavier Church on Nov 19. Photo: Media Ministry, Church of St Francis Xavier
“I’m at peace now, sometimes I’m angry and depressed, but this gives me hope. Now I have managed to pray for them and the jihadists as well,” said Ms Beatrice Burguet.

The 45-year-old French woman was speaking to CatholicNews after attending a memorial Mass for the victims of the Nov 13 Paris terror attacks.

About 200 French people attended the Mass, organised in a spirit of solidarity with the French community, at the Church of St Francis Xavier on Nov 19.

A sombre atmosphere was evident as they and about 100 local Catholics gathered to pray for the victims of the attacks and their families.

In his homily, Fr Jude David expressed his condolences to the French community, some of whom might have “intimately known those who perished and shared a common history … with”.

He told those gathered that God will continue to walk with them despite the questions and doubts they may have because “in the eyes of God, we are all His children”.

“God is with us, whatever the situation or circumstance,” he said.A memorial to the victims of the Paris attacks and their families.

Fr Jude also highlighted the story of Dom Christian, a French Trappist monk killed by extremists in Tibhirine, Algeria, in 1996.

“In Dom Christian, we see… a man who desired to love all people as the children of God, without allowing religion to separate us, and also to live out the message of Jesus, to forgive even the one who would kill him,” Fr Jude said.

“We are one Church, and it is because we are one Church that we are here tonight,” said Fr Jude. “We ache with you, and we cry with God the Father for the pain His children continue to go through in our world.”

During the Mass, parish priest Fr Brian D’Souza read out a message from Archbishop William Goh to the French community.

In it, he assured them that his “thoughts and prayers” are with them “in this time of searching”, and noted that “Jesus Himself … was not spared from the sins against humanity”.

He also noted that the French community has a special place in Singapore. “It was your forefathers who brought the faith to our shores, and worked tirelessly to ensure that it took root. It was they who built our first mission schools, orphanages and hospitals, and of course our many churches,” he wrote.

“Tonight, we want to return the love that your forefathers gave to us, and hold you in our hearts as you grieve with your family and friends in your loss.”

“May you draw strength from the promise of our heavenly Father that He will never abandon us,” he added.

After Mass, participants lighted tea lights placed on a makeshift memorial to the victims of the attacks and their families.
When asked how the Mass had helped them deal with the tragedy, Ms Beatrice Desbazeille, 44, said that this was “one way” to be in solidarity with the French community.

Mr Ronan Cante, 24, who arrived from France two weeks ago for work, said: “The homily really spoke to me and I felt connected to everyone around. I feel much better now. Even a hug or a hand on the shoulder really helps.”

By Jared Ng
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