A response to recent sadness

following the sad death of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan, and all that has happened since.

At St Mary’s we have a ministry of daily prayer.  It’s a subtle, often unseen, maybe overlooked ministry – but quietly, day by day, we pray.

We pray for the world and the local community, for those who are sick and in need, the poor and underprivileged, and for the powerful too.  For leaders and politicians, for families and individuals.  Some are prayed for by name.  Others are unknown to us, but we pray for them all the same.

Within these prayers are those who have died, and in praying for them, we pray too for their family and loved ones, for all who feel the pain of grief.  Each life and death has an affect on others, like ripples in a pond, and this pain can affect so many people.

Some deaths have a wider effect, especially deaths that are sudden or unexpected, violent or suspicious, confusing or unexplained, or those who are young.

The death of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan is one such death that has caused ripples throughout the community and beyond. The ripples though do not just come from his sad death. The ripples emerge too from the past, from wounds that lie open, from concerns which are raised not just here in Cardiff but across the world, as we seek just and loving ways of living together rather than with inequality and injustice. With any death there are always questions: How? Why? Mohamud’s death has raised these questions in very obvious ways.

With death will come anger.  This is a natural emotion.  We can be angry for so many reasons when someone dies.  Many people are angry.

Mohamud is in our prayers, each day, and so are his family and friends who are so filled with grief.  But prayer does not come with instant, magical results.  Our prayer is always patient.  Whilst anger and frustration and sadness and confusion can and do often fill our prayer to God, so too must love, and patience, trust and hope.  Sometimes, we are just silent – as strong and eloquent a prayer as any.

We are committed, though, not just to prayer but to action too.  The community of which we are a part is a vibrant community, characterised by differences in which we rejoice.  We find no problem living alongside people of other faiths and cultures, colour and history.  In fact, these differences are a blessing to us.  It is something we boast about, and want to share with the wider world, how it’s possible to live together.  Different but much the same.

We are committed to building friendships, to strengthening community life, drawing close to one another in respect and love, and working with organisations, leaders, authorities, groups and institutions, churches and mosques and other communities of faith.

We want the best for our community, our city, our world, and for all people to be treated as equal, for all to have equal opportunities and valued lives. We want a community that is strong yet peaceful, confident yet calm. The circumstances of Mohamud’s death have moved some people to the streets, to express their grief and anger, to ask questions, to demand answers. This is understandable. It can be difficult to be patient under such circumstances. It can be almost impossible to be calm.

On Tuesday, I watched from a distance, as people gathered, and then passed St Mary’s Church.  I wanted to see, to feel, the anger and emotions, perhaps to let some know that I was alongside them but not able to take to the streets with them at this time.  I am moved when people seek justice.  It is a basic human right.

In the search for justice and truth, an independent investigation has begun.  Within that process we trust that the community will receive an open ear.  This has been a promise of the IOPC. At this stage we can only trust in the process, and look forward to the IOPC referring to those whose lives are affected by everything that has happened, as we seek peaceful ways in which hurt and anger can be expressed, and questions asked.

Within the anger and open wounds, we pray for peace and calm so that, in time, all of us, no matter our position or standing within the community, will be able to learn lessons, move forward, make change, and together, make our bit of the world a bit better through strong relationships, firm friendships, and growth in love.

Our ministry of prayer at St Mary’s may be subtle, often unseen, maybe overlooked – but quietly, day by day, we pray.  For Mohamud, his family, his friends, all involved and affected by his sad death, and for you.

Fr Dean Atkins

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