A vigil was held for the victims of the massacre in Orlando, US, at the St Therese Catholic Church in Wollongong on June 14. In an emotional ceremony, about 200 people joined together on a cold night to pay their respects to the victims and to lend support to the LGBTI community, who have been left reeling after the atrocity in Florida.
The event was organised by Unity Wollongong, a local non profit organisation that provides support to the LGBTI community and their families.
Members of Unity Wollongong had initially planned to protest a controversial anti-marriage equality meeting to be held at the church by the Australian Family Association, but after the shooting decided to hold a vigil outside the church to show “hate does not equal hate”.
But the Bishop of Wollongong cancelled the talk, saying it would be “better suited for another time”. He contacted Unity Wollongong to accept the invitation to join in their vigil for the victims of the mass killing and offered for the event to be held inside the St Therese gates.
Unity member and event organiser Emma Rodrigues said the church's offer had been welcome. “Our differences on so many issues remain tangible,” she said. “However on this night, my hope is that the LGBTQI community of the Illawarra, the Catholic Church and our wider community stand together out of respect and love for those who were murdered because of one man's hateful actions.”