Spirit of Assisi Interfaith Prayer Service To Highlight Commonalities

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

ALLEGANY, N.Y. — During St. Bonaventure University’s commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Spirit of Assisi, Francis Di Spigno, OFM, will offer a reflection. The day is also known as World Day of Prayer for Peace.

A letter from General Vicar Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, details what gave rise to the Spirit of Assisi and what has transpired over the past 25 years since the historic day of dialog for peace. 

“May all of us who are disciples of the Lord Jesus, friends with Francis of Assisi, and all people of Good will renew our pledge to be instruments of peace and reconciliation in a world wounded and in search of hope and healing,” Fr. Michael wrote. “And may the Spirit of Assisi become for each of us, and for all the nations of the earth, our way of living the peace of God’s kingdom in the world, which is God’s gift to all of humanity and all of creation.”

Commemoration at SBU
The interfaith prayer service begins at 7 p.m. on Oct. 27 at the University Chapel in Doyle Hall. In addition to Christians, participants will include representatives from the Unitarian, Buddhist, Islamic, Hindu, Baha’i, Jewish and Native American communities.

Francis, guardian of the St. Bonaventure Friary and SBU executive director of University Ministries, said that in a world that appears increasingly fractured and divided, reclaiming the Spirit of Assisi that Pope John Paul II initiated 25 years ago is an opportunity to highlight commonalities.

“Often, in our desire for security, or even self-definition, we push aside anything that is different from what we know, who we are, or what we understand. Our prayer in the University Chapel will echo the other prayer services throughout the country and the world in our common prayer and desire for a peace that is strengthened by our diversity, not weakened by it,” Francis said.

Other Celebrations
Around the Province, other ministries will be holding prayer services on Oct. 27. Among them are St. Anthony Shrine in Boston; St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Camden, N.J.; and St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, Md. 

The Provincial commemoration takes place at 7 p.m. at Holy Name of Jesus Church in New York City. Friars participating in the gathering of Christians, Jews and Muslims are pastor Daniel Kenna, OFM, Michael Tyson, OFM, and Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM.

“It is important to do as the general ministers of the Franciscan Orders recommended,” John said, “to act as ‘pilgrims of peace.’”

He noted: “To be a pilgrim, to successfully go on a journey, implies traveling as light as possible, namely to limit the baggage we take along for the trip. This would seem a very appropriate challenge for all of us to put aside the baggage of bias, judgmental attitude, prejudice, anger — any of the things that prevent us from reaching out to our neighbors and this planet earth.”

The commemoration is an opportunity “to remember our call to peace and reconciliation and commit to a year of civil dialogue,” said Russell Testa, director of the HNP Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. Last week, the Province’s JPIC Office provided resources about communicating the importance of the Spirit of Assisi commemoration. They included homily helps for the weekend Masses of Oct. 22, prepared by JPIC Directorate member Stephen DeWitt, OFM. The Justice and Peace page of HNP.org also offers detailed information about the Spirit of Assisi.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.