Instruments of Peace and Hope

Maria Hayes In the Headlines

Ministries around the Province have been busy this summer with events relating to justice, peace and integrity for creation. Friars and their partners-in-ministry participated in anti-violence marches, parish missions, reflections and an Earth-centric music competition.

Camden, N.J.
In a city known for its crime and poverty, Juan Turcios, OFM, and members of St. Anthony of Padua Church and School participated in the 9th Annual Anti-Violence March for Children in early August. The Christian Pentecostal Church in Camden organized the Aug. 5 march, which lasted two hours.

“When we were walking, a lot of families with children came out to see us,” Juan said. “A lot of people here live in the shadows. They don’t go to church or have connections in their neighborhood. This gave them a little bit of hope.”

As they marched through the streets, participants chanted phrases like “no mas drogas” and “we care for children.” Most of the marchers were bilingual, but some only spoke Spanish. Juan’s knowledge of both Spanish and English allowed him to serve as a bridge between both groups.

“I was an instrument to try and bring peace,” said Juan, who has been stationed at the Camden parish since June.

Camden is known as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States for its high level of crime. The number of people murdered in Camden during the week of the march exceeded the number of American soldiers killed in the Middle East during the same time period.

The event concluded with food and games for the marchers. The participating religious organizations also had printed information available.

“Our parish does something ecumenical almost every week,” said Jud Weiksnar, OFM, pastor.

Wilmington, Del.
A few miles south, the Spanish Charismatic Movement of St. Paul’s Church in Wilmington held its annual Mision en la Calle, or Mission in the Street, the week of Aug. 10. A combination of new evangelization, parish mission and a come home program, the four-night outdoor mission usually takes place on a side street in different neighborhoods, like a block party, or in the parish parking lot, where this year’s mission was held.

“The mission is an important part of our ministry and worship because it reenergizes us in our call to preach the Gospel,” said Todd Carpenter, OFM, pastor of St. Paul’s. “It gives us an opportunity to reach those who are not typically churchgoers and might not hear the message of the Gospel all that frequently.”

Each gathering includes preaching, testimonies, song, charismatic prayer, laying on of hands and more, according to Todd. This year, approximately 100 to 150 people attended each night. About half of the attendees were active parishioners. The other half consisted of people who were away from the church for many years, people invited by parishioners, and neighbors and passersby attracted by the lively music and dynamic preaching.

Photos of the event were posted on the parish’s website.

Silver Spring, Md.
Outside Washington, D.C., the second annual Latino Care for Creation Concert at St. Camillus Parish “far exceeded everyone’s expectations,” according to Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, guardian of St. Camillus Friary.Approximately 500 people attended the event.

Eight Latino youth and young adult groups, many of them from outside the parish, took part in a June 23 music competition titled “A Song For The Earth.” The groups were required to write a song that would speak about the ecological crisis from a faith perspective and communicate a message of hope, along with a call to action.

“All the groups participating in the “A Song For The Earth” competition did a splendid job,” Jacek said. “Their enthusiasm and a newly awakened commitment to care for God’s creation were palpable.”

The judges awarded the first prize, provided by the Franciscan Action Network, to Tira la Red, from the archdiocesan network of the Latino Youth Charismatic Renewal.

During the concert, members of the Latino JPIC committee distributed material with information on how to save energy and lead a healthier, sustainable lifestyle. CASA de Maryland gave out more than 3,500 CFL light bulbs.

The Latino JPIC ministry; De Cara al Viento, a local Latino radio program; and Utopia Franciscana organized the event.

“Our entire committee was full of joy helping to organize the second environmental awareness concert,” said Otto Perez, leader of the Latino JPIC ministry at St. Camillus and a FAN action commissioner. “Everyone was convinced that this concert would give us a wonderful chance to convey how important it is to protect our beloved Mother Earth. It was heartening to see the interest of so many Latinos — especially the young adults — in adopting a more sustainable lifestyle.”

A video of the concert has been posted on St. Camillus Parish’s website.

Stoneville, N.C.
On Aug. 18, St. Francis Springs Prayer Center hosted a sold-out justice and peace program, led by Robert Menard, OFM, of Anderson, S.C. The “The Spirit of Assisi: Mirror of Pentecost” talk provided an in-depth reflection on this significant event.

Participants explored how Pentecost has been, and continues to be, a renewing experience for believers, and its implications for vocation and service in the world today, said Paul Cronin, development and marketing coordinator at St. Francis Springs Prayer Center.

— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.