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Bernie Thomas OFM assisted in the planning of the Spirit of Assisi service in Auckland Cathedral. Hosted by Bishop Pat Dunn, there were ten denominations represented and approximately 150 people in the congregation. The “Decalogue of Peace” was used as the main focus for the evening. Each religious denomination which included a Buddhist monk, a Muslim Iman, and a member of parliament, was invited to read one of the statements from the Decalogue and then to respond to it with their own style of prayer or reflection.
A member of the congregation was invited to give to each religious representative a native seedling which they were invited to plant somewhere as a symbol of our desire for peace and unity. The evening finished with supper.
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On Oct 27th2011, the Custody of St. Anthony of Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Spirit of Assisi at the Home of the Franciscan Friars in the Piazza where it was attended by 300 or more people. The event was graced by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Singapore Dr. Tony Tan & Mrs. Mary Tan, His Excellency Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, His Grace Archbishop Nicholas Chia of the Archdiocese of Singapore and the Respected Religious Leaders of the IRO (Inter-Religious Organisation).
The gathering began at 7pm where people were invited to a Halal Vegetarian Dinner and this gave the people time and opputunity to mingle with one another till the programme proper began at 8pm. The Custos of the Custody of St. Anthony gave an opening address. The Apostolic Nuncio then in his address spoke about the significance of the celebration. The Friars had invited 10 inter-religious leaders to join in the occasion and each took turns to pray in their respective faiths for Peace. A video pre-recorded by Friar Matthew Beckmann of the Province of the Holy Spirit, gave an account of how the Spirit of Assisi began, its history and the intention of the Blessed Pope John Paul II when he gathered the Heads and Representatives of the Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of the World’s Religions to gather in Assisi for the World Day of Peace. The friars were privileged to have St. Joseph’s Institution Choir called the SJI Vocal Ensemble who sang three songs of peace and hope. A drama company “Walk on Water Productions” also inspired the people with the dramatised reading of Douglas Wood’s “Old Turtle and the Broken Truth”
Below are excerpts’ of Friar Michael D’Cruz and Mr Jaafar Ma, a representative of the Muslims from the Ba’alwie Mosque:
Friar Michael D’Cruz shared during the evening that the event was a reminder of the “need for a deep mutual respect for one another, the need for dialogue and the need to uphold the dignity of human life that God has given.”
Mr Jaafar Ma, a representative of the Muslims from Ba’alwie Mosque, said the gathering was an opportunity for the different religions to demonstrate racial and religious harmony.
After the Respected Religious Leaders had taken their respective turns to pray in their own faith traditions, they joined in the lighting of candles in the Garden of Peace, where when all the candles were placed together, it read the word ‘Peace’ in four languages of English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil.
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Padua College BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA
On 27 October Padua College played host to two very special guests as its way of honouring ‘Spirit of Assisi’ Day. Firstly, a group of Year 11 boys from the Islamic College of Brisbane enjoyed a visit to Padua. The visit began with an interfaith prayer gathering in Little Flower Church where one of the Islamic students read from the Koran in Arabic. John Boyd-Boland OFM gave a short explanation of the significance of the church as a sacred space to Catholic Christians. Matt Hufer OFM spoke about the history and tradition of the Franciscans. The students were guests at a special college assembly where one of them made the call to prayer before the assembly prayer was prayed. They left shortly after the assembly. Their visit was so successful that it will become a regular one each year.
Our second guest for the day was Ms Kathy Kelly, peace activist and three times Nobel Peace nominee. Kathy’s visit was sponsored by Pace e Bene Australia. Kathy spoke to at assembly about non-violent peaceful ways of demonstrating.
The legacy of Pope John Paul’s historic gathering in Assisi twenty-five years ago was not lost on Padua College in 2011. The visit by the students from the Islamic College and Kathy Kelly brought home to us all the importance that working and praying has on and for our world today. Mr Michael O’Brien
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The observance of the 25th anniversary of the Spirit of Assisi Day of Prayer for Peace extended over four days at Saint Peter’s Church and Friary in the Chicago Loop.
October 25 Tuesday - The Power of Forgiveness, a film (part one) was shown at 12:15 p.m. in the Saint Clare Auditorium of Saint Peter’s Church.
October 26 Wednesday - The Power of Forgiveness, (part two) was shown at 12:15 p.m.in the Saint Clare Auditorium of Saint Peter’s Church. Friars from the Community joined approximately thirty lay people employed in the businesses for this two part formation and education program. A fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order, which meets regularly at Saint Peter’s, used this as part of its fraternal reflection program during its meeting.
October 27 Thursday
- The friary community used the special prayer service for Morning Prayer on this the actual anniversary date.- At the seven Masses celebrated in Saint Peter’s Church on that day the Mass for Peace and Reconciliation or the Mass for the Progress of Peoples was offered.- At 12:15 p.m. Friar Albert Merz, of the Province Peace Center, offered a lecture and reflection on The Seeds of Violence. Friars and approximately thirty others participated in the Saint Clare Auditorium.
October 28 Friday – At 12:15 p.m. Friar Albert Merz continued the meditation begun yesterday by a presentation entitled The Seeds of Peace to a similar group as yesterday.
In this way several hundred people from various parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago as well as residents in the city and its suburbs became aware of the Spirit of Assisi.
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Report by David Schütz, Executive Officer, Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission
27th October 2011
27th October 2011
On 1 January 2011, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he wished to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the historic meeting that took place in Assisi on 27 October 1986, at the wish of Blessed Pope John Paul II. On the day of the anniversary, 27 October this year, the Holy Father held a Day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world, making a pilgrimage to the home of Saint Francis and inviting fellow Christians from different denominations, representatives of the world’s religious traditions and, in some sense, all men and women of good will, to join him once again on this journey.
In conjunction with the Holy Father’s Assisi meeting, gatherings also took place in major cities around the world. Here, the Faith Communities Council of Victoria cooperated with the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne to organise a gathering called “Assisi in Melbourne: Faith in Service of Peace.” The Anglican Diocese of Melbourne kindly made available their historic “Chapter House” at St Paul’s Cathedral for the event.
On Sunday 23rd October, sixty members of Melbourne’s religious communities gathered for a one hour ceremony to commit to the service of peace in our city and our world. As we gathered, Cathy Connelly played for us on her celtic harp to appropriately set the tone of peacefulness. We were welcomed by Murray Davies, the chair of the FCCV and by the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, Bishop Mark Burton. This was followed by a series of readings and meditations from the twelve religious traditions represented: Baha’i (Susanne Haake), Brahma Kumaris (Christine Westbury), Buddhist (Venerable Horowpathane Sathindriya), Christian (Bishop Mark Burton), Hindu (Pandit Abhay Awasthi), Jewish (Rabbi Shamir Caplan), Muslim (Sheikh Abdinur Weli), Sikh (Ranjit Kaur), and Zoroastrian (Ervad Armin Dumasia). Between each reading, Glenn Sharp played quietly on the sitar.
Rabbi Caplan used a verse from the Jewish evening prayers related to the Jewish festival of Sukkoth (the “Feast of Tabernacles” or “Booths”): “May You spread over us a sukkah (tabernacle) of Your peace.” He explained that the value of peace is so great that we pray for it even if it will be like a sukkah, the flimsly and temporary outdoor structures in which Jews live for the eight days of this festival. It requires effort and work to keep it standing and proof against the weather.
Many of the readings were read in the original languages of the sacred writings, such as the Koran and the Veda. Bishop Burton surprised us all by reading, beautifully and fluently, the Beatitudes from Matthew’s Gospel in the original Greek!
Professor Desmond Cahill OMA, chair of Religions for Peace Australia and a member of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission, was the guest speaker for the occasion. He told how he was first introduced to ecumenism (at later by extension into interfaith relations) by a visit to Assisi as a young man. He high-lighted the encounter between St Francis and the Muslim Sultan during the Fourth Crusade – a strange and seemingly naïve attempt at an interfaith encounter in the midst of violence and war.[Click here to download a copy of Professor Cahill's speech]
Melbourne Opera soprano, Rebecca Long, then sang for us the “Peace Prayer of St Francis” (“Make me a channel of your peace”) to the accompaniment of the harp. While not by St Francis, this song embodies the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi’s simplicity and poverty and was first published by Pope Benedict XV in L’Osservatore Romano to encourage peace efforts during the First World War.
The assembly then voiced together their “Commitment to Peace”, which included rejection of violence and terrorism in the name of religion, mutual respect and esteem between people of different ethnic groups, cultures and religions, fostering the culture of dialogue, forgiveness for past and present errors and prejudices, taking the side of the poor and the helpless, and urging leaders of nations to make every effort to create and consolidate a world of solidarity and peace based on justice.
Following the ceremony, the Hindu Society of Victoria provided a generous afternoon tea (of curry puffs and cream cakes!) which allowed those who had gathered to spend a precious and joyful hour in conversation with one another.
Ironically, as this was taking place in the Chapter House in Flinders Lane, outside there was tension and some violence in relation to the “Occupy Melbourne” protest. By numerical comparison, our gathering was small, and yet I believe that in “Assisi in Melbourne” there was a true sign for the hope of a future of well-being and peace in our society.