Western New York Friars Team Up to Form Peacemaking Group

HNP Communications Features

ALLEGANY, N.Y. — The first program sponsored by the new multi-ministry group in Western New York dedicated to practicing and promoting nonviolent peacemaking in an increasingly violent society was held last week. 

The group, which was formed this fall, consists of Franciscan friars around  St. Bonaventure University, including representatives from Mt. Irenaeus, St. Bonaventure Church, the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany and the university, according to Suzanne Kush, CSSF, director of SBU’s Franciscan Center for Social Concern. 

“We wanted to create a program that would be large enough to include more than the university community,” she said. 

The group is called Namaste (nah-mah-STAY), a Hindi word meaning, “ I bow to you.” Some interpret  the word’s meaning  “I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you, which is of love, of truth, of light and of peace. When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, we are one.”

The name was chosen because it reaches out to communities beyond the Catholic community, said Barry Gan, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Nonviolence at SBU. 

“We thought the name would represent our intentions to be inclusive of all people,” said Sr. Suzanne, who creditsRichard Husted, OFM, at St. Bonaventure Church for suggesting the name.
Namaste’s vision is to draw inspiration, with open hearts and minds, from the lives and spirits of Francis of Assisi and Mohatma Gandhi, and to pursue personal transformation that leads to societal change.

“You can find injustice in your local community,” said Gan. “That’s what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did. It wasn’t a national movement, but it attracted national attention.” 

Namaste will offer monthly programs on nonviolence to the university and local communities over 10 months. 

Namaste’s first program was held Nov. 14 in the university chapel. The program featured Jean François Godet-Calogeras, associate professor of Franciscan Studies. Godet-Calogeras spoke on “Brother Francis, the Wolf and the People of Gubbio.” Jean is shown in photo above.

“People need to be nonviolent within themselves and it can ripple outwards,” said Peter Schneible, OFM,assistant professor of biology. Peter is a member of the Province’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Directorate.

More information is available through Sr. Suzanne at skush@sbu.edu.