NEW YORK — Christians celebrated World Peace Day at the start of the new year on Jan. 1. Pope Benedict XVI’s World Peace Day message was one of environmental protection and peace.
While the celebration is set aside for just one day, Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, co-chair of the Province’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Directorate, encourages Province members and friends to keep peace in their heart all year long.
“The year 2010 presents our Province with many opportunities to respond to the Holy Father’s challenging message through preaching, lifestyle changes and involving our religious education programs and youth ministry in education for peace and ecological responsibility,” Jacek said.
He encouraged friars and parishioners to read the pope’s message, “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.” In it, Pope Benedict said: “If one wants to cultivate the good of peace, in fact, one must promote a renewed awareness of the interdependence that links the earth’s inhabitants to one another. Together, people must preserve and restore the natural environment, eliminating at least some of the causes of environmental disasters.”
The pope’s message strongly underscores the mission of the Province JPIC directorate. Jacek recalled being in Washington, D.C., on a sidewalk in front of the White House, on the eve of the United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen last month and seeing a sign made by young girls that read “Tick, tick, tick, the world is waiting for us.”
“Every now and then,” Jacek said, “the group of children shouted out, ‘It’s our future, save the earth.’ This vivid image came back to me the other day when I read the message written by Benedict XVI for the annual World Peace Day, in which he calls for a greater sense of intergenerational solidarity vis-à-vis the threat of global climate change.”
Jacek added, “We can — and should — participate in influencing the public policy of our country regarding global climate change because, ‘tick, tick, tick, the world is waiting for us.’”
The photo above shows a youth group’s focus on the environment.
— Fr. Jacek Orzechowski is guardian of St. Camillus Friary in Silver Spring, Md.