Sisters prepare for two peace prayers

March 17, 2009 by

About two dozen members of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia and other participants hold signs on the hillside below the “atomic cannon” at Freedom Park, overlooking the Army base at Fort Riley, on St. Joseph’s Day 2008. The second annual vigil will be March 19, which is both St. Joseph’s Day and the sixth anniversary of the Iraq War.

About two dozen members of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia and other participants took part in the first 'peace prayer' at Freedom Park, overlooking the Army base at Fort Riley, on St. Joseph’s Day 2008. The second annual vigil will be March 19, which is both St. Joseph’s Day and the sixth anniversary of the Iraq War.


The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia are finishing up planning on two very different public events, both focusing on prayer, to mark the feast day of their patron saint this week.

For the second year, a number of sisters will travel to a park just south of the Fort Riley Army Base to pray for peace. Sister Judy Stephens, one of the organizers of this year’s prayer vigil, notes that March 19 is both St. Joseph’s Day and the sixth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War.

The first peace prayer organized by the Justice & Peace Center of the Sisters of St. Joseph was held March 19, 2008. About two dozen people — both sisters and other individuals — took part in that gathering, which included holding large signs that read “Pray For Peace” atop the hill in Freedom Park, overlooking Fort Riley to the north and Junction City to the west.

This year’s gathering is scheduled from 1 to 5 p.m., and the public is invited to participate. The afternoon will include time for prayer and sharing, music and a walk to the top of the hill. Susan L. Allen, Ph.D., director of nonviolence education at Kansas State University’s Women ‘s Center, is the keynote speaker.

In explaining the peace prayer, the organizers cited a 1983 statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: “Peacemaking is not an optional commitment. It is a requirement of our faith. We are called to be peacemakers, not by some movement of the moment, but by our Lord Jesus.”

The date and the site are deliberate, according to Sister Esther Pineda, another of the organizers from the Salina-based Justice & Peace Center. The prominent location is the site of the largest Cold War-era “atomic cannon” that tops the hills, which serves to “remind us that violence does not end violence and war does not end war,” Sister Esther said. And by marking the anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War, she added, “We are also reminded of loved ones, men and women presently in harm’s way all over the globe fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan.”

Participants will also pray “for the spouses left behind at home struggling to make ends meet, forced to be both parents to their children,” Sister Esther said. “And we pray for all victims of war, Iraqi, Afghanistan, Pakistan men, women and children.”

The goal of the afternoon program is to “participate in a peaceful, prayerful way that reflects who we are as followers of Jesus, children of God and citizens of the United States,” Sister Judy explained.

Freedom Park is located at Exit 301, off Interstate 70, on the south side of the highway. Those planning to attend are urged to carpool because parking is very limited. For details, you can contact the Justice & Peace Center by phone at 785/823-1650 or by email at justiceandpeacecenter@sbcglobal.com.

Meanwhile, in Concordia, the Sisters of St. Joseph are inviting members of religious demoninations throughout the area to join them in a “Prayer for St. Joseph’s Day” from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

The hourlong observance will be in the Sacred Heart Chapel, part of the historic Motherhouse at 13th and Washington streets, and will focus on prayers for anyone suffering anywhere in the world. The prayer vigil will be followed by a social time hosted by the sisters, and the public is invited to both.

Traditionally, St. Joseph’s Day — honoring the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus — has been a special observation for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. Joseph was a carpenter, noted for his humility, compassion and obedience to God. In addition to his status as patron saint to religious orders that carry his name, he is also patron of the Universal Church.

Comments

One Response to “Sisters prepare for two peace prayers”

  1. Jeanette Wasinger, csj on March 18th, 2009 7:23 pm

    I’ll be with all in spirit at Freedom Park and at the Motherhouse … praying for PEACE! Happy Feast of Saint Joseph to all!
    Jeanette

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