Citing the proven power of prayer, the Catholic Archbishop of Edmonton is inviting people of goodwill to join him in praying for peace in Syria at a special Mass at 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 14, at St. Joseph’s Basilica.

In a message to parishioners, Archbishop Richard Smith noted that news of a possible diplomatic alternative to military strikes in Syria followed last week’s prayers by people around the world.

“What is being widely reported is the flurry of diplomatic activity that has brought us to this moment,” said Archbishop Smith.  “People of faith are recognizing a deeper and prior agency at work - the power of prayer. At the call of Pope Francis, countless thousands implored the Lord for peace at a time when a military strike seemed certain to occur. Now there is real hope that it can be avoided.”

He urged Christians and people of all faith traditions to continue to pray. Among those expected to join the Archbishop at Saturday’s Mass are members of the Syrian Christian community in Edmonton.

The Catholic Bishops of Canada have designated this Saturday as a national day of prayer and fasting in support of the people of Syria. The day also marks the conclusion of a joint campaign with the Catholic Organization for Development and Peace to raise funds in support of Syrian refugees. A special collection will be taken at the Mass.

“Our hearts continue to weep for the people who suffer and are forced to flee their country,” said Archbishop Smith. “We recoil in horror that the use of chemical weapons could even be contemplated yet alone used on innocent people. From the depths of our hearts we must continue to pray, confident that the Lord alone has the power to change hearts, to bring about surprising new possibilities and to lead us to reconciliation and peace.”

“Please continue to pray. I will be celebrating Mass at St. Joseph's Basilica at 5 p.m. Saturday and invite you to join me.”