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Swissair Tragedy


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Memorial services providing comfort to residents, searchers



Mark Roberts
Lighthouse staff

 CHESTER - Memorial services were held across the South Shore over the past two weeks to help residents cope with the tragic crash of Swissair Flight 111 off Ironbound Island.

 Witness and Remembrance for the Victims of Swissair Flight 111 was held at St. Stephen's Anglican Church in Chester September 6. The Ecumenical Service was broadcast by radio in the Chester area. A homepage on the world wide net has also been established at www3.ns.sympatico.ca/sataylor/chapel.htm to provide comfort and information to local and international observers.

 Anglican Pastor Rev. Sean Taylor helped organize the service along with area volunteers. Also participating were clerics from the Chester United Baptist Church, Tancook Island Baptist Church and the St. Augustine Roman Catholic Parish. Dr. M. Allen Gibson, Pastor Emeritus, Chester, provided The Homily. Rev. Taylor led the service. Numerous area businesses donated goods for a reception following the service. The St. Stephen's and Chester Baptist choirs sang, closing with the hymn Amazing Grace.

 Rev. Taylor explained, "Everybody has been asking what can we do and there's been a lot of hurt and frustration in the community and the clerics have been feeling the same way. We hope the service has taken some of the negative charge out of everybody. Prayer is a constructive activity. We wanted to show our care and concern in a time of crisis."

 He continued, "People are pretty much overwhelmed and there's no easy way to get over something like this. It will take a long time." He said the emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of residents, searchers and family members of the victims need to be met. "I think the people involved in it have paid a very high price." He mentioned, for example, the volunteers, firefighters and RCMP involved in the search, who will eventually need the support of the community. "They've been so busy I don't think they've had time to do anything but work."

 He hopes people were comforted by the service although nothing but time can help. "It's been, hopefully, a once in a lifetime kind of thing. Usually, it's something that happens far away from here but this time it occurred right here. I think that makes the difference. It's important to be available for people so they know we're here to listen."

 He adds, the question why did the tragedy occur, cannot truly be answered.

 "That's the nature of tragedy. You can provide all kinds of answers to the question why and the answers will not comfort people. People are going to be sad and they will suffer."

 During the Homily, Rev. Gibson echoed Rev. Taylor's comments. "I realize no words of mine can beguile you from your questions or from the sorrows that have plagued you in recent days. Nevertheless, I come as one who has found immeasurable blessing in the gracious ministry of God and Father of us all and I crave for you such grace as my testimony may suggest."

 He said the first word he thinks of is courage: the courage of the passengers and crew of Swissair Flight 111; the courage of the families of the victims; and the courage of firefighters, service personnel and police. "This is the courage of people who suddenly find themselves in the midst of tragedy and do not understand its implications. Yet they carry on. Do you not realize that you are in the presence of greatness?"


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