Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Please Join Sant'Egidio Prayer for Peace

Called to Peace
on campus activities

An invitation to work for peace
with the Community of Sant’Egidio
throughout the year in preparation for the
Prayer for Peace
to be held in Washington DC, April 26-27, 2006

The Community of Sant’Egidio is organizing Called to Peace, a participatory project designed to include students in the Prayer for Peace. This includes students able to attend the prayer that will be held in Washington DC, April 26-27, 2006, and those participating only in on-campus activities.

“Peace be with you” were the first words of the Risen Christ. The disciples were not expecting these words. Peace was given as a gift of the Sprit and was welcomed as a dimension of life freely given by the Risen Lord. Before any action is taken, before any planning, before any attempt to ‘do things right’, it seems appropriate to the Community of Sant’Egidio to invite all to a moment of prayer, humbly receiving the gift of peace together.

A flexible, inviting form of prayer, the Prayer for Peace can be organized on campus before the gathering in Washington. The format of this prayer can differ, but over the years the many Christians who have been participating in these gatherings have benefited from and contributed to the Prayer for Peace.

Peace is a central concern of many students and yet, its emergence, effectiveness and sustainability in a complex world are not obvious. The Community of Sant’Egidio is not a professional conflict resolution organization. Rather it is a family of friends gathered around the Gospel and committed to live the Word in prayer, friendship and service to the poor. In this path, the Community has found many occasions to work practically, concretely and effectively for peace. Workshops have been designed in different formats allowing two-hour brief sessions or day-long retreats. Convened by a member of the Community of Sant’Egidio, the workshops are a wonderful occasion to reflect on the possibility of contemporary peace work.

Peace stories
Although violence is around us, peace is possible. Although loneliness is everywhere, friendship is possible. Although many experience confusion and despair, all can discover truth and hope. The Gospel is the good news that we frequently do not have the time to listen to (so we tell ourselves), especially when it speaks of peace. Yet the Gospel contains an invitation to peace that has been the source of hope and inspiration for many. While peace is frequently associated with political and military concerns, we all know that peace can actually be experienced personally, even in the midst of the most violent conflict. To honor those who were able to preserve this space of peace, the Community of Sant’Egidio began collecting peace stories. It is a collection of real moments of peace carved in the midst of daring circumstances. Told mostly by fellow students, the peace stories are a powerful tool to re-frame our understanding of peace as a possible path for all of us. When told, the peace-stories are also an invitation to explore and unveil other peace-stories of which the participants may be aware. Peace-stories are usually told in an informal evening setting.

Moved by the example of Saint Francis of Assisi and more than forty years after Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem In Terris (Peace in All Lands), , Pope John Paul II called a gathering of world religious leaders in 1986 to pray for peace. In this spirit, a group of scholars have developed a course on Catholic Peace-building. Taught for the first time at the University of Notre Dame in the spring of 2005, the course, which brings together tradition and innovation, familiarizes students with the rich legacy of Catholic teachings on peace and invites them to consider peace as a subject worthy of further investigation. In addition to the traditional semester long format, a shortened version is in preparation.

Many students may consider peace as a relevant aspect of their work. The Community of Sant’Egidio is happy to collaborate with those who manifest an open commitment to peace. An independent academic study program is available for interested students with the agreement of their own institution.

The Community of Sant’Egidio believes and is committed to direct, open, and personal relationships. This is why all activities listed above work best when emerging from a personal visit, whether occurring at Community of Sant’Egidio gatherings (there are at the moment five communities in the US; New York, Washington, Boston, South Bend, Minneapolis) or in an on-campus visit. The practice of hospitality is, for us, a fundamental step towards a new, inclusive and hopeful understanding of peace.

For more information
Dr. Andrea Bartoli
Community of Sant’Egidio Tel. (212) 663 1483
560 Riverside Dr. #13P Fax (212) 663 4178
New York, NY 10027 Email