NOTRE DAME, Ind. – As the death toll continues to rise from the Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, the Michiana community is rallying around the country.
The University of Notre Dame held a mass in remembrance of the victims Wednesday.
Thilini Fernando, who is from Granger and has family living in Sri Lanka, says the support in the aftermath of the attacks means a lot.
Fernando's parents immigrated to the United States from Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. It's a small town about 30 minutes south of Colombo, one of the cities hit in the attacks.
Most of Fernando's extended family still lives in Sri Lanka. She visited the country at least once a year growing up. Fernando says she's even gone to some of the places hit in the attacks like St. Anthony's Shrine.
Fernando's family in Sri Lanka is okay. They don't think they personally know anyone killed or injured in the attacks, but Fernando says the country, especially its Catholic community, is close knit so it still impacts everyone.
"It's more than sad," said Fernando. "There are just no words to see that happening, especially when people were just celebrating, you know their religion. They were going to a place where they were celebrating their holiday, and for this to happen to them is devastating."
Fernando thinks it will impact the country moving forward.
"I don't think there will be any violent or physical tensions between the Muslim and the Christians in the country because we've existed so peacefully so far and we have an understanding of each other," said Fernando. "I think that they'll strengthen their security and I think definitely the government, the people will vote for the current president out. They will definitely look for a more stronger presence in the country."
Ebrahim Moosa is a professor of Islamic Studies at Notre Dame.
"We've crossed a barrier of inhumanity that it seems that it's difficult to see how are going to step back," said Moosa. "I believe we have to step back from that. I think all people of faith around the world should come together in a show of force because this does not only affect Christians and Muslims, it affects people of other faiths too on different continents that we have to come together.
Moosa says this latest attack shows a pattern that places of worship are now targets of terrorist attacks.
"Sober minded religious communities [need to] put their own rivalries aside, work together, and bring their communities to a point where there's zero tolerance for these kinds of extremes," said Moosa. "Whether it's a white supremacist who does certain things under the guise of Christianity and Christian civilization or it's Muslim terrorists who have certain views of how they want to defeat the West."
Wednesday's mass starts at 5:15 p.m. at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
University of Notre Dame student Ana Goudory says she hopes signs of unity shown by the mass at Notre Dame's Basilica will bring a positive change in the future.
"I was really moved by the homily today and talking about the gap between how the world is and how God intends it to be and how that's true of our experience and that's also an inspiration to make a better world and that starts with being in solidarity and caring about each other," Goudary said.