Dec. 31, 2010: ‘Another Year of Peace’ continues ideal of helping Concordia, by Sister Jean Rosemarynoski

December 31, 2010 by

This column signals both an ending and a beginning.

When a group of us from across the community kicked off the Concordia Year of Peace in September 2009, we expected it to run through this month. But over the last few weeks, several individuals and groups have asked us to continue the Year of Peace; they’ve told us they’ve seen a difference and hoped we could continue the discussion. Thus, 2011 is “Another Year of Peace.”

But 16 months into this emphasis on peace and civility, some of you may be asking, “What’s its purpose? Is it really necessary?”

Let me share with you some of what I have heard this past year and then you can decide what your answer is to those questions.

A businesswoman told me she supported the Year of Peace because she had seen one indirect impact of violence firsthand: In one 10-day period, three of her employees left their jobs — and, ultimately, Concordia. Each was a victim of domestic violence, and each had to move to another town for her own safety and the safety of her children. The women’s safety was this businesswoman’s first priority; her second concern was how to replace three workers with no notice.

Another person who works with youth said she’s seeing more grade-school age children raising themselves and knows many of them suffer abuse and neglect. That’s not the Concordia she knew from a few years ago, she says, and she hopes there’s a way to address those changes.

Meanwhile, a number of participants at the Concordia Needs Forums have noted the disturbing rate of sexual assault in Cloud County, saying that they see it as a major issue across the community.

Can Another Year of Peace address all these concerns and solve these problems?

No. No, it can’t. But it can help make people aware of them. It can encourage people to take action – notify proper authorities, get people help – when something is happening that should not be.

To help us all be an informed community, the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Year of Peace committee is launching a yearlong Community Forum Speaker Series beginning in February. On the third Monday night of each month, we will invite community leaders to speak on a topic that is of interest to the whole community. The events will be free and open to the public.

The purpose is to present a picture of the complex issues in our town. We believe that the first step in making a difference is becoming informing. Then we are all better able to participate in making our community a better and safer place for everyone.

Our hope is that the Concordia Year of Peace instills in each person the belief that all people are to be treated with dignity and respect. Dignity and respect for children, for women, for men, for the elderly, and for those who are different from us in some way. Dignity and respect for our neighbors, for those we meet on the street and for our own families. That is not always easy to do but we believe it is an ideal worth striving for.

Signing the Civility Pledge is one way to commit to treating others with dignity and respect. Pledge sheets are available until Jan. 15 at the Frank Carlson Library, the Chamber of Commerce and Neighbor to Neighbor. The signed pledge sheets will be published in the Blade-Empire.

Now, back to the question, “Is the Year of Peace really necessary?”

My own New Year’s resolution is to help make Concordia the best small town in Kansas through the efforts of the Year of Peace. Can I count on you to join me?

— Sister Jean Rosemarynoski is a member of the Leadership Council of the Sisters of St. Joseph and head of the Concordia Year of Peace Committee. If you have ideas or suggestions for committee or want to get involved with the Year of Peace, contact Sister Jean at 243-2149 or sisterjean@csjkansas.org, or any of the other committee members.

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