Celebrating Peace Sunday on 19 Jan
The Community of Sant'Egidio marching in Rome on this year's World Day of Peace on 1 January.
Photo: Pacific Press/SIPA USA/PA Images
Pax Christi, the UK branch of the international Catholic peace organisation, reports keen interest in this year’s Peace Sunday on 19 January, reporting that nearly 20,000 prayer cards have been sent out by request around England and Wales. Many Pax Christi members are giving talks in their parishes, providing bidding prayers, and supporting children's activities, such as decorating the Peacemaker greeting card. Theresa Alessandro, Pax Christi’s director, is speaking in her own parish in Leicester on Peace Sunday and in a parish in Coventry on the following weekend. Ann Farr, who was an ecumenical accompanier in Palestine, will speak at both Masses at St Thomas More in Coventry. There is an annual call out to parishes across the country to do a collection for Pax Christi UK, which relies on that income.
In Westminster, Our Lady and St Joseph, Hanwell, will pray for peace at Masses, hand out Pax Christi prayer cards, and display the World Day of Peace message of Pope Francis on its parish notice board. The Kingsland Parish of Our Lady and St Joseph will see Henrietta Cullinan hand out Pax Christi prayer cards and use bidding prayers she has written focusing on local poverty and homelessness, as well as recent hostilities in Iran and Afghanistan. St Albans Justice and Peace group is holding a peace vigil on 18 January. Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi will be speaking after the 10.30am Sunday Mass at St Mellitus, Tollington Park, on the theme of "Peace as a Journey of Hope" and reporting on her recent visit to Israel and Palestine.
In Arundel and Brighton, Our Lady of Lourdes parish, Thames Ditton, is welcoming a Lampadusa Cross, symbol of the refugee flows that warfare causes, which will also be used that afternoon in the local churches' celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Abingdon parish in Portsmouth Diocese is using the Pax Christi Bidding Prayers, and Anne Dodd, a former Pax Christi chair, is speaking at each Sunday Mass. Pax Christi daily prayers will be going into the parish newsletter.
In East Anglia, parishioners of St Laurence parish in Cambridge will undertake a “virtual” peace trail around the town, led by Pax Christi member Arn Dekker. He has produced the trail with a printed guide, detailing men and women who have a connection with Cambridge and who were active in their lives for the cause of peace and social justice. These include Eglantyne Jebb (1876-1928) founder of Save the Children. On Sunday, the sites will be viewed through a presentation following the 11am Mass.
Peace tree at St Wilfrid's, Preston.
In its January newsletter, Lancaster Faith and Justice Commission reminded each parish that it had been sent the Peace Sunday liturgy booklet and provided links for downloading it, along with Pope Francis’ World Peace Day message and a reflection on it by the co-presidents of Pax Christi International, Bishop Marc Stenger, Bishop of Troyes, France and Sr Teresia Wamuyu Wachira (IBVM) from Kenya. St Wilfrid’s Preston, in Lancaster Diocese, is recycling its Christmas Tree into a Peace Tree. Parishioners will be given a paper dove as they come into church and asked to write a situation, place, person in need of peace. Then, after the bidding prayers, they will be invited to hang their prayer dove on the tree, which will remain in place until Shrove Tuesday.
In Liverpool Archdiocese, the diocesan justice and peace worker, Steve Atherton, is speaking at two churches, and many parishes will have Pax Christi stalls. In Hallam, Anne Peacy, chair of the National Justice and Peace Network, will give a Pax Christi talk at both Sunday morning Masses in her parish and hand out peace prayer cards. Prayers for peace will be included in the bidding prayers and the music will include a peace hymn. Sr Katrina Alton will speak at a parish in York, Middlesbrough Diocese.
Christian CND is urging all members and supporters to pray for peace in the Middle East this weekend. This includes a prayer for world leaders – such as Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Hassan Rouhani – that they have the courage to seek peace. There is also a prayer that the Iran nuclear deal be saved.