Hundreds of people have attended a multi-faith memorial services for the victims of Malaysia Airways MH17 at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Melbourne and St Mary’s Star of the Sea Cathedral in Darwin’s CBD .
Eighteen Victorians and three Northern Territory residents were among the 298 victims of the crash in eastern Ukraine.
The Victorians killed include Albert and Marie Rizk, Frankie and Liam Davison, Mary and Gerry Menke, Gary and Mona Lee, and five members of one family, including Shaliza Zain Dewa, Johannes Van Den Hende, and their three children, Piers, Marnix and Margaux among others.
The Darwin church was at capacity last night for a commemorative mass to remember teacher Emma Bell and public servants Wayne and Teresa Baker.
There was standing room only in the Melbourne cathedral today, and outside many others watched the service on a large screen in nearby Federation Square.
Flowers and notes of condolence were placed on the steps of the cathedral as people paused to pay their respects.
Family and friends of the victims were joined by political leaders, visiting experts from the World Aids Conference in Melbourne, and members of the Sunbury Lions football club who remembered their late supporter, Albert Rizk.
The consul-generals of Malaysia and the Netherlands lit candles while the congregation observed a minute of silence for the victims.
Love is stronger than hate, service told
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine led the act of remembrance.
“For those who love, time is eternity,” he said.
“With the stirring of the wind and in the chill of winter, under the blue sky and in the warmth of summer, we will remember them.”
Dr Andreas Loewe, the Anglican dean of Melbourne, led a roll call of nationalities of the victims and asked God to “help us to know that goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate”.
Emphasising the multi-faith nature of the memorial, Dr Loewe said St Paul’s was “the home church for all of you gathered to commemorate those who perished aboard Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17”.
“We meet today, as people from many backgrounds and faiths, to remember before God all those who died… and to pray with those whose lives were changed forever on that day,” he said.
“We pray together… to commit ourselves as people of faith to work for the future security of our world, for a spirit of tolerance and respect, for peace and freedom, for justice and the rule of law.”
Australians lost on MH17
A nun, a teacher, a husband-and-wife pair of doctors, a businessman and his three grandchildren are just some of the Australian lives cut short by the attack on MH17.
The Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, said they all could not have imagined a week ago they would be gathered together today.
“We all had little expectation about the way in which a conflict on the other side of the world could collide brutally and destructively with so many innocent people,” he said.
“Nothing is ordinary about the deaths of the 298 people whose lives were lost in an instant over the eastern Ukraine.
“Even in death a proper and dignified response has struggled to find a place in the midst of a violent separatist war.”
Dr Freier also spoke of the hope for justice for those killed.
“Our sense of justice will undoubtedly be offended by the failure of anyone to step forward and take responsibility for what has happened,” he said.
The congregation also heard a prayer for the departed, led by Hojun Futen from the Buddhist Council of Australia.
“We also pray for the bereaved relatives and friends, that they may be comforted in their loss and find peace of mind and strength of heart,” he said.
Cantor Bruce Levin led the traditional Jewish mourner’s Kaddish, while Imam Sheikh Moustapha Sarakibi from the Islamic Council of Victoria read the Islamic funeral prayer.
“O Allah, forgive our people who are still alive and those who have passed away, forgive those who are present here and those who are absent,” he said.
The memorial service came as the bodies of the first victims from the disaster arrived at a military base in the Netherlands.
Australian Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joined the Dutch king, queen and prime minister Mark Rutte to receive the bodies.