A very wet night last night yet, despite the rain, the cathedral was full as hundreds came for the service to observe National Suicide Prevention Day. Set out on the sanctuary steps were tea light candles, one for every suicide in New Zealand in the twelve months May 2014 - May 2015. The dreadful and startling realisation this gave was that there were so many candles, 569 in all.
The service was planned and led by our University Chaplain, the Rev. Greg Hughson and the Life Matters Trust Committee. The Cathedral Choir and other community groups shared in the service and many stayed on afterwards for time together and the refreshments in the crypt.
My own words of welcome as Dean were very simple:
- I want to welcome you all to your Cathedral this evening. I say your cathedral quite deliberately because this cathedral is here for our city and to serve all Otago and Southland. To those among you who may have travelled some distance to be here this evening, an especially warm welcome to you.
- To the organisers, the Life Matters Trust, the speakers and participants of this service, and to my colleague Greg Hughson, this is a major project – a major piece of work – that you have a taken on. I so admire your vision, compassion and dedication – and thank you for allowing this Cathedral to be your place this evening.
- To those among us who come this evening with the ache of loss,with tears and with painful memories, I hope and pray that here tonight, you may know some comfort, some consolation, some renewal of hope. In this place of faith and hope, know that you are among friends.