An Update from New Zealand

Norman Gray, OPA

It has been a surreal few days.

In my role as Operations Centre manager in several departments in Wellington’s Regional Hospital, I was notified shortly after 3:00pm by Christchurch hospital Emergency operation centre staff of the shootings and expecting upwards to 40 casualties.  As the situation was still evolving, the hospital in Wellington implemented our emergency plan.  Early on, Christchurch hospital was not sure of the number of people it would receive, nor did they know if they would be able to deal with them all. Wellington Regional Hospital was put on alert to make capacity in our ICU and operating theatres. It was about three hours later that Christchurch let us know they were coping with the 39 injured. We were put on standby.  We ended up taking two patients from their ICU, not from the shooting, but to give them space for the injured. It was not until Saturday morning that we were stood down.

It wasn’t until Sunday that I begun to process the events. Our morning liturgy was very moving, a sobering experience. This evening I attended a vigil in town with several thousand people. Another moving experience.

At Mass, before we started we are invited not to sing the national anthem, but to speak it/pray the words.

God Defend New Zealand / Aotearoa

God of Nations at Thy feet,
In the bonds of love we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our free land.
Guard Pacific’s triple star
From the shafts of strife and war,
Make her praises heard afar,
God defend New Zealand.

Men of every creed and race,
Gather here before Thy face,
Asking Thee to bless this place,
God defend our free land.
From dissension, envy, hate,
And corruption guard our state,
Make our country good and great,
God defend New Zealand.

At the vigil this evening, an Imam (the person who leads prayers in a mosque) prayed this prayer:

Sufi Prayer for Peace

Send Thy peace, O Lord, which is perfect and everlasting,
that our souls may radiate peace.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may think, act,
and speak harmoniously.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may be contented
and thankful for Thy bountiful gifts.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that amidst our worldly strife
we may enjoy thy bliss.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may endure all,
tolerate all in the thought of thy grace and mercy.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that our lives may become a
divine vision, and in Thy light all darkness may vanish.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, our Father and Mother, that we
Thy children on earth may all unite in one family.
– Sufi Prayer

Tomorrow is Monday, a time to connect with our very multi-cultural staff at the hospital.  There are many Muslims in a variety of clinical settings that our management team, including myself, will reach out to.

The country is stunned, dazed and confused.

The message throughout the past two days to our Muslim sisters and brothers, many who are refugees from war torn countries, is that the individual who perpetrated this act of hate is not us, but that you are us and are most welcomed.


Posted in News

13 responses to “An Update from New Zealand

  1. Norman,
    Thank you for being there and available to help the people of New Zealand during this terrible situation. Thank you for sharing the New Zealand anthem, it is a prayer. I love the Sufi’s prayer. My prayers are with the people of New Zealand.

  2. Norman,
    Muchisimas Gracias
    for your healing presence in NZ; I will share your words and prayers with our Muslim friends,

  3. Norman , I think of you each time I deliver something to Casa Maria here in Tucson, How often we met there to feed the hungry. I know you’re doing a wonderful ministry . I remembered you last night when I attended the all Denominational prayer at one of the Mosque here in Tucson. God bless ya’ll.

  4. Norman, thank so much for sharing your experience with us. Know that you and the people of N Z are in my prayers. And thanks much for the birthday card you sent. Corina

  5. Our prayers are with the people of New Zealand…and everywhere that terrorism and hatred gain a foothold. May God bless and protect you…and those you serve. May ALL people live in peace. And may we all help in some small way to bring about God’s peace and love in this weary world. I can not imagine the horrors. We ARE one, may we be given the grace to realize and act on that.

  6. Thank you Norman Gray for giving a personal face to the suffering of the Muslim community and people of New Zealand. Our prayers are with you all.

  7. Norman, our hearts go out to all of you. You are us. We know your pain and pray for the same healing that we ask for ourselves as racism and violence continue to erupt and disrupt our lives here. We are all Kiwis today.

  8. Thank you so much for this, Norman. It helps us be there and present with you and the people of NZ. Thank you for your compassionate and caring presence as a Dominican Associate of Peace. You have been a gift to us for so many decades!

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