Pax Christi Vigil
Promoting Peace Around the World
Published: Friday, September 20, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 22, 2013 16:09
On Wednesday, Sept. 11, the Holy Cross Community joined Pax Christi in remembering the events of September 11, 2001 and praying for global peace in countries presently torn by conflict and violence, such as Syria, Yemen, and Sudan.
Students gathered in Memorial Plaza where they wrote a prayer for peace in their own words and burned it in offering. After this, they were offered a candle to light and place on the edge of the fountain that stands in the center of the Plaza. The mood was somber, as students remembered the seven Holy Cross alumnae who lost their lives on 9/11 as well as their own loved ones. Accompanying the solemnity was a tangible feeling of hope and solidarity. As candles blew out in the wind, students went around the fountain in an effort to relight the flames.
Every minute, a meditative bowl was rung to focus the energy of the group and symbolize the passing of time. Students stopped in the plaza for a few minutes, some for an hour, but throughout the evening, the communion of those paused in a moment of reflection was felt.
It was this communion that drew Annie Wynters, ‘14 to the event. “I’m here to pray for the suffering in Syria,” shared Wynters. When asked why an event like the prayer vigil is important, Wynters replied, “It’s our community coming together to promote peace.” Pax Christi, and the larger gathered community, shared in her position.
Pax Christi is a 70-year-old international organization promoting peace, justice and sustainability “in a world that often times overlooks our common humanity,” says Matt King, ‘14, Co-Chair of Pax Christi with Catherine Morrison, ‘14, both of whom were in Memorial Plaza on Wednesday night.
This event helped bridge a gap between Americans and Syrians, both of whom have been effected by acts of violence. “We as a community remembered those who are no longer with us,” stated King, “while at the same time thought of those who are still with us suffering under the banner of armed conflict. [We] prayed for the end of the evil that is as present in 2013 as it was in 2001: the evil being violence.” Over 325 candles were lit in Memorial Plaza, representing 325 prayers for peace and 325 memorials for the past and present of our global community.
The Holy Cross chapter of Pax Christi will continue to follow the developments in Syria and the Middle East at their weekly meetings on Wednesdays, at 7 pm in Campion House.
“I would personally recommend continuing to pray for peace in the world,” said King, “and, if the spirit moves individuals to action, a hand written letter to a representative in either Congress or the Senate calling not military build up, but rather a build up of humanitarian aid, for those whom are suffering.”
It has been three and a half weeks since the alleged chemical gas attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s administration. The attack killed thousands of Syrian men, women and children, and is believed to be the deadliest chemical weapons attack since 1988. The attacks occurred in and around the city of Damascus, which since the onset of war over two years ago has been controlled by anti-government groups. This includes the Free Syrian Army, a group of military defectors who organized themselves after the initial protests and violence in 2011. It has grown to include multiple militia and radical Islamist counterparts, some of whom are allied with Al-Qaeda. These Islamist groups control the country’s northern and eastern regions, in particular the borders of Turkey and Iraq.
Though the Syrian government has lost control of large land areas, they have the financial and military support of both Russia and Iraq. Rebel groups have found allies in countries including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. The United Nations is estimating a death toll of over 100,000 people and millions displaced, making this a conflict that has irreversibly affected the lives of countless people.
As the world holds it’s breath in anticipation of events to come, Pax Christi works to start conversations about Holy Cross students’ role in the global community as perpetuators of justice and peace.