By Anneke Swift
Sunlight spilled through the stained glass windows of the religious centre at Monash University Clayton Campus while students, staff and community members gathered for the multi-faith memorial service held for the 50 victims of the Christchurch terror attacks.
From fresh-faced first years to community leaders, the wooden benches filled swiftly. Some shared quiet chatter with a neighbour, while others sat with their eyes closed in quiet contemplation.
On Friday March 15, 50 people were killed amid a sole gunman's shooting rampage, during which he targeted worshipers at two Christchurch mosques.
The university memorial, held last Wednesday, demonstrated support for the Muslim community and the many students and staff at Monash with connections to New Zealand.
Religious leaders from many faiths, including Catholicism, Judaism and Islam, voiced their sympathy towards those affected by the attacks and encouraged the community to work together to create harmony and respect.
Fr Geoff Harvey opened the service by condemning the acts of violence that took place.
“We deeply value and celebrate our freedom to worship God in safety, without fear,” he said.
“Despite the events taking place in another country, it affects us all."
Islamic Council of Victoria president Mohamed Mohideen encouraged the community to raise their voices against Islamophobia.
“We can be the voice that creates the change. Let us not be silent,” he said.
“We will rise above this hate and create a society that will be more loving to one another.”
A minute of silence was held to remember all those affected by the tragedy.
Monash University Islamic Society vice president Merjem Colan was among those to reflect on the tragic events.
“The service was solemn and comforting and highlighted the impact that these events have had on the community," she said.
"As a Muslim, this is my home, and it means a lot to have support from my university and my country.”