DURHAM, N.C . — In true Franciscan tradition, the Immaculate Conception Church community held an interfaith prayer service of lament and reconciliation for the BP Deepwater Horizon, which exploded in the Gulf of Mexico nearly 100 days ago.
In a July 8 article in the Durham Herald-Sun, Steven Patti, OFM, who led the prayer service, said, “In the Franciscan tradition there is a deep respect for the integrity of creation.” Steven said, “As the oil spill went on, and it became clear that it was devastating to the people and the wildlife of the Gulf, the church considered a religious response to the spill.”
Looking for Hope
The guest speaker at the prayer vigil was Ellen Davis, the Amos Ragan Kearns distinguished professor of Bible and practical theology at Duke Divinity School in Durham, who said, “We have unleashed a monster of mythic proportions.”
Davis read from the book of Jeremiah, relating a passage of people suffering from a severe drought to the oil spill today. “Once there is profound lament, the people then look to God in hope,” she said.
A musical intercession was sung for the protection of the sea, the people who make their living there, and the creatures that live in and near the sea.
Beth Keena, chairperson for the environmental stewardship committee of the congregation at Duke Chapel, said, “If you believe in God, you also believe He can work miracles and this is what it will take to solve the crisis.”
As the name of each worker killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion was read aloud, a candle was lit and a bell was rung.
Steven stressed “a deep interrelatedness among all parts of the created world, and thus an obligation on our part to care for it.”
Rick Keena, a parishioner, said he “hopes the vigil is a wakeup call and prays it is a message from God about stewardship on Earth,” according to the article titled “The Damage to God’s Creation.”
Immaculate Conception parish is one of many Holy Name Province ministries that have held programs in response to the oil spill. A June 9 prayer service at St. Camillus in Silver Spring, Md., was featured recently on the Religion and Ethics Newsweekly television program on PBS.
The Durham parish calender includes a variety of summer gatherings.
Immaculate Conception held a Young Adults’ Habitat Meetup on July 17. The group comprises young adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s who come together to connect socially and to explore and live out their faith together.
On Aug. 4, Daniel McLellan, OFM, will hold a vigil for peace in the Middle East. The vigil will consist of a prayer and reflection and will take place in the daily chapel.
— Kevin McGarr is a summer intern in the HNP Communications Office.