NEW YORK — From marches to prayer services, conferences to quiet reflection, Province ministries honored the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. last month as someone who called for the peace that St. Francis taught.
In Wilmington, Del., a walk and prayer service were held on Jan. 18 atSt. Paul Church, where Todd Carpenter, OFM, is the pastor.
Approximately 250 people marched in the neighborhood around St. Paul Church, spreading the message of peace, non-violence, and racial harmony, said Michael Tyson, OFM, the parochial vicar.
Among the marchers were men from an interfaith peace-keeping group he founded. “Peacekeepers” is comprised of men who patrol the streets once a week for an hour spreading a message of peace. “What was gratifying,” said Michael, “was the number of young people who participated. Probably more than 50 percent of the marchers were teenagers or younger.”
Dr. King’s birthday is not the only time that Peacekeepers are active, according to Michael. “Men are called to consciousness and action, specifically because we want to call men back to their responsibility to be fathers, doing their part to nurture their children. We feel that women are doing their part in this regard. An average of 15 men show up to walk the streets. If a murder is commited in the city, the Peacekeepers walk for an hour in the neighborhood where it took place.”
In New York City, community members participated in an eighth annual peace march near the Province’s Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Manhattan, where Daniel Kenna, OFM, is the pastor. The march grew out of a neighborhood need to respond to the impending invasion of Iraq. The first walk garnered more than 1,000 people, and has been popular ever since, according to parishioner Tony Lopresti, chair of Holy Name Parish’s Social Justice Committee, who said, “Our pastoral staff — Fr. Dan, Laurence Ford, OFM, Gonzalo Torres, OFM, and Ciduane Joseph, OFM — were in attendance.”
He added that the interfaith peace walk, which began in 2002 has “helped spur the formation of an informal grouping of neighboring congregations known as West Siders for Justice and Peace.” The walk, an Advent peace concert, a Thanksgiving eve interfaith prayer service and a “Pulpit Rotation” have become the central events of WSJP ever since, helping to bring clergy and faith communities in the neighborhood closer together. Tony said plans for next year’s march include increasing participating congregations from four to six.
In Upstate New York, Siena College sponsored the Students Together Opposing Prejudice conference, part of its Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King Lecture Series. STOP celebrates Dr. King’s legacy while continuing to advance his mission of promoting equality.