Prayer demonstration, vigil focus on peace

March 20, 2009 by

At Freedom Park, overlooking Fort Riley, on St. Josephs Day 2009

At Freedom Park, overlooking Fort Riley, on St. Joseph's Day 2009

The group for the 2009 peace prayer at Freedom Park overlooking the Army’s Fort Riley was smaller than in 2008. But the focus on peace and nonviolence was just as strong as at last year’s inaugural event.

Sister Carolyn Teter leads the peace walk.

Sister Carolyn Teter leads the peace walk.

The day's observances included a silent peace walk through Freedom Park.

The day's observances including a silent 'peace walk' through Freedom Park.

On St. Joseph’s Day — and the sixth anniversary of the Iraq War — about 16 Sisters of St. Joseph and other participants listened to prayers, personal statements, music and a talk by Susan L. Allen, Ph.D., director of nonviolence education at Kansas State University’s Women ‘s Center. Then, after a meditative “peace walk” through the small park at the base of hill that is home is to the world’s first “atomic cannon,” most of the group walked up the hill to hold huge signs asking people to “Pray 4 Peace.” The silent demonstration was timed for the shift change at Fort Riley, just across Interstate 70, so people leaving the military base would see the signs.

The event was organized by the sisters’ Justice and Peace Center in Salina.

Sisters and others from Concordia took part in the hourlong prayer and vigil at the Motherhouse Thursday.

Sisters and others from Concordia took part in the hourlong prayer and vigil at the Motherhouse Thursday.

Meanwhile, at the Motherhouse in Concordia, sisters and people from the community joined in a prayer vigil in celebration of St. Joseph’s Day. Sister Marcia Allen, president of the Concordia-based Catholic order, said the prayer was to show solidarity with people suffering anywhere in the world. People from other denominations throughout the Concordia area had been invited to join the sisters in the hourlong vigil and they stay or a social hour.

Dr. Susan Allen speaks to the group in Freedom Park.

Dr. Susan Allen speaks to the group in Freedom Park.

Susan Allen, speaking to the group in Freedom Park, just outside Junction City, suggested that it’s those kinds of quiet actions that will change the course of violence.

Using the phrase “everyday nonviolence,” Dr. Allen said, “We need to pause and reframe the way we view conflict, rather than just react to it.”

Too often, she said, “If somebody yells ‘war,’ our instinct is to jump on the other end of the teeter-totter and yell ‘peace’ — but that will never, ever work.” Instead of seeing conflict and nonviolence as that teeter-totter, or as the only two options, “We have to view the options as a gyroscope; it’s not just black or white, one or the other — the are a multitude of actions possible.”

She believes we can resolve conflict earlier in the process with three steps:
— Step back, or pause and consider.
— Plan ahead, or consider all the options.
— Step up, or be willing to be committed to your plan of action

“I’m already against the next war,” she said. “What we have to ask ourselves is, ‘What we are doing or not doing right now to address the next crisis?’”

The hill at Freedom Parkis topped by the worlds first atomic cannon, while other types of military weapons decorate its slopes.

The hill at Freedom Parkis topped by the world's first "atomic cannon," while other types of military weapons decorate its slopes.

Those attending the prayer vigil at the Motherhouse Thursday had the opportunity to reflect on St. Joseph.

Those attending the prayer vigil at the Motherhouse Thursday had the opportunity to reflect on St. Joseph.

While the peace prayer was being held in one section of Freedom Park, a other and her two boys were enjoying the sunny day by picnicking and playing on a tank displayed a little ways away.

While the peace prayer was being held in one section of Freedom Park, a other and her two boys were enjoying the sunny day by picnicking and playing on a tank displayed a little ways away.

Sister Esther Pineda

Sister Esther Pineda


The huge peace signs are visible to a stream of cars leaving Fort Riley at the afternoon shift change.

The huge peace signs are visible to a stream of cars leaving Fort Riley at the afternoon shift change.


Sister Judy Stephens

Sister Judy Stephens

Comments

5 Responses to “Prayer demonstration, vigil focus on peace”

  1. Mary Fran Simons on March 28th, 2009 4:34 pm

    What a lovely article. I want to thank this web site and those responsible for it. I appreciated Susan Allen’s steps toward a nonviolent response to violence. Thank you. Mary Fran

  2. Susan Allen on March 25th, 2009 4:41 pm

    Thank you Sisters of St. Joseph for inviting me to your Peace/Prayer vigil on March 19. As you know, anthropologist Margaret Mead said it takes “small groups of thoughtful committed citizens to change the world.” I’m pretty sure I met one of those groups in Freedom Park. It was a lovely event.

  3. Janet LeDuc on March 23rd, 2009 1:22 pm

    I was there is spirit and offered my walking steps during the day to be with you in spirit. Thanks for the witness this event gave to many in so many ways to bring about peace and unity as well as assist those in grief because of the losses of loved ones at war.
    Janet LeDuc

  4. Carolyn Teter on March 23rd, 2009 11:01 am

    Even though we were smaill in number at the peace prayer in Freedom Park, the energy generated by our presence and prayer will go out to the world and bring about peace and unity. I believe this!

  5. Jeanette Wasinger on March 21st, 2009 3:07 pm

    The pictures of the Peace Prayer at Junction City and the Motherhouse are great. I also appreciate the article. I was there in spirit and in prayer. Thanks to everyone who arranged for this prayerful presence.
    Jeanette Wasigner

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