Heartbroken school friends, teachers and families praying for the safe return of Cleo Smith came together for an emotional vigil at the little girl’s school on Thursday night.
About 50 guests filled the St Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church, as devastated community members united to share hopes the bright-eyed youngster would be found alive.
Parish priest Father Steve Casey led the service with school members and said the community gathered with “deep pain and broken hearts”.
“Our hearts break as we gather here tonight,” he said. “Watch over Cleo, Lord, and bring her safely home. We miss her and we know you feel our distress and anxiety. Please keep Cleo safe from harm.”
Sadness hung in the air as people lit candles to symbolise hope and prayed for Cleo, her family and friends.
“Candles transform into brightest of lights to give Cleo comfort and reassurance wherever she is,” Fr Casey said.
He told The West Australian Cleo’s classmates and the wider community were all reeling from her disappearance. “This church is important to many families at the school,” Fr Casey said. “Having a simple ritual like lighting a candle or coming together in prayer gives people a sense that out of a horrible experience, God is still present … and people can lean on each other.”
Several moving candlelit vigils have been held in Carnarvon as residents come together, with more than 100 people packing the Church of Christ last Sunday.