Prayers for Karen as local community rallies to mass of hope
A community joined together in prayer to show their support for the family of missing student Karen Buckley (24)
Hundreds packed the tiny Church of St Michael the Archangel in Analeentha, just outside Mourneabbey in north Cork, for what parish priest Fr Joe O'Keeffe described as "a mass of hope."
The small church, located closest to Karen Buckley's family home, has a capacity of just 300, so hundreds more were forced to gather outside.
People travelled from Mallow, Burnfort, Drommahane, Banteer and Donoughmore to show their solidarity with the Buckleys.
Parish priest Fr Joe O'Keeffe described the mass as a simple, meaningful celebration.
Fr O'Keeffe said that the ceremony was an opportunity for the community to support the Buckley family in spirit and prayer in their hour of need.
The Bishop of Cloyne, Dr William Crean, added his voice to the community's support for Karen's parents, John (62) and Marion (61).
"I wish to offer prayerful support to the family of Karen Buckley at this painful time as they await her safe return," Dr Crean said.
"We have all been deeply touched by the unconditional love expressed by John and Marion for their daughter.
"I ask the Mourneabbey community to join with me in prayer for the safe return of Karen."
Fr O'Keeffe admitted the community was "very downbeat" after the past four days.
"This is a particularly difficult and painful time for the Buckley family and indeed for all of us.
"But the Buckley family are in our thoughts and in our prayers and will continue to be until there is a final outcome to this situation," he said.
"This is a small parish community and a close-knit one so we are all feeling for the Buckley family without exception."
Karen had only moved to Scotland in January to pursue her studies.
She has three older brothers - Brendan (32), Kieran (28) and Damian (27). Kieran has travelled from Australia to join his parents in Glasgow as the search for Karen continues.
Karen's friends have stepped up a massive social media campaign for help in locating the missing occupational therapy student who went missing after a night out in Glasgow on Saturday night.