“Racism continues to poison institutions, social structures, and everyday life in every society. It continues to be a driver of persistent inequality, and it continues to deny people their fundamental human rights. It destabilizes societies, undermines democracies, erodes the legitimacy of governments, and … the linkages between racism and gender inequality are unmistakable.” – Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and Nazareth Campus staff gathered together on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, for a special prayer for International Peace Day. This year’s International Peace Day theme was to End Racism: Build Peace.
In St. Vincent de Paul church, SCNs Rosemarie Kirwan, Mary Elizabeth Miller, and Joan Robishaw led a prayer service. Many Sisters joined in this service to ask for an end to racism.
Outside, Sisters and staff sang and prayed around the Peace Pole on campus, which proclaims “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in four languages, to sing and pray. Sister Joetta Venneman, who serves Nazareth’s Office of Social and Environmental Justice, led the outdoor gathering.
During prayer, participants reflected, in part, on the following:
Achieving true peace entails much more than laying down arms. It requires building societies where all members feel they can flourish. It involves creating a world where people are treated equally, regardless of race.
As conflicts continue to erupt around the world, causing people to flee, we have seen race-based discrimination at borders. As COVID-19 keeps attacking our communities, we have seen how certain racial groups have been hit much harder than others. As economies suffer, we have seen hate speech and violence directed at racial minorities.
Participants were asked to contemplate what actions in their life demonstrate love for their neighbor who is of another race, tribe, or caste. After contemplating, Sisters and staff prayed for churches and faith communities to demonstrate change and help break the cycles of poverty, ignorance, prejudice, and despair. They prayed for the celebration of racial diversity, and wise and decisive action from elected leaders to eradicate racism. They also prayed for victims of racial discrimination, for an end to subtle racism through economic oppression, and for strength and courage for those working for racial justice.
As the afternoon prayers concluded, all pledged to support one another to struggle for racial justice and nonviolence, to become more vigilant in the discernment of racism, and to become more emboldened to expose and resist racism.