Monday, November 23, 2015

People of Different Faiths and Languages Vigil Together for Peace

By Sister Martha Ann Kirk
A Candle Light Silent Vigil for “those suffering from violence, the families and the countries, the victims and perpetrators, ourselves and the others” was held Nov. 22, 2015, 5:30-6:30 pm at the University of the Incarnate Word. About a hundred people quietly and slowly walked around the Peace Pole.

Photo by Susan Ives, peaceCENTER
As the gathering concluded, people who speak another language were invited to share the words on the Peace Pole “May peace prevail on earth.” As people were speaking in Spanish, Azerbaijani, French, Nepali, German, Arabic, Vietnamese, Hebrew, Swahili, Urdu, Hindi, Turkish, Celtic, Assamese, American Sign Language, English, and other languages, many felt a sense that people of other countries should not be feared, but recognized as companions seeking peace. Dr. Lopita Nath, UIW History professor, who extensively researches refugees and leads students helping refugees with Catholic Charities, said  “San Antonio has been a safe haven for refugees and San Antonians have always come to support and help them adjust to life in America. The refugees who are here and those who are coming need our support at this difficult time. Please pray for peace and safety.”

The vigil was co-sponsored by CAIR-TX, SA (Council on American Islamic Relations, San Antonio, TX); Catholic Church; Christ Lutheran Church of Alamo Heights; Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation; Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, UIW; Episcopal Church of Reconciliation; Dialogue Institute of the Southwest, SA; Incarnate Word Sisters International Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Committee; Pax Christi, SA; Raindrop Women’s Association; SA Coalition Against Genocide;  SA Community of Congregations;  SA Muslim Women’s Association; SA peaceCENTER; SoL Center at University Presbyterian Church; Temple Beth El; UIW Honors Program; Voice for South Asians Against Family Violence and for Healthy Relationships- Awaaz San Antonio; and hosted by the University of the Incarnate Word. 

Father Rodolfo Caballero, who came to the vigil as a representative of the Archdiocese, encourages all to reflect on the words of Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium as a way of fostering peace.  The section on peace begins: “Peace in society cannot be understood as pacification or the mere absence of violence resulting from the domination of one part of society over others. Nor does true peace act as a pretext for justifying a social structure which silences or appeases the poor, so that the more affluent can placidly support their lifestyle while others have to make do as they can. Demands involving the distribution of wealth, concern for the poor and human rights cannot be suppressed under the guise of creating a consensus on paper or a transient peace for a contented minority. The dignity of the human person and the common good rank higher than the comfort of those who refuse to renounce their privileges. When these values are threatened, a prophetic voice must be raised.  Nor is peace ‘simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day towards the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect justice among men’. In the end, a peace which is not the result of integral development will be doomed; it will always spawn new conflicts and various forms of violence.”   (Evangelii Gaudium, 218-219.)

See news reports on the Vigil: 
Many did not know the person next to them norpractice the same faith                                               By Bill Barajas – Reporter  Posted: 10:28 PM, November 22, 2015                                                                          

A picture of the vigil also appeared on the front page of the San Antonio Express News, Nov. 23, 2015                                

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