USCCB president, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, recently announced a Day of Prayer for Peace in our Communities, to be celebrated in faith communities across the country on September 9.
In interviewing numerous faith communities in preparation for this day about their responses to violence, racial tensions, and systemic racism, we have encountered amazing stories of deep faith, persevering hope, and effective action to build peace and counter racism.
In West Baltimore, St. Peter Claver Catholic Church was on the front lines in responding to unrest that followed the death of Freddie Gray. Parishioners continue to build on efforts begun four years ago to address neighborhood safety and improve community-police relations. They also participate in Bishop Madden’s prayer walks in neighborhoods plagued by violence.
In Ferguson, MO, parishioners at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta are engaging a “Lean In” listening process across cultures and raising awareness about racial issues. Children at the parish school study saints of various cultures to reflect on how they can imitate these heroes by engaging in efforts for dialogue and peace.
All around St. Louis, MO, parishes are joining with congregations of other denominations so that people of faith can have Sacred Conversations on Race (+ Action), which challenge participants to encounter one another and discuss the uncomfortable topic of racism.
In Dallas, TX, Holy Trinity Catholic Church is working with other faith groups to improve police-community relations and work on racial and economic justice. Because of the interfaith group members’ long work to build relationships with law enforcement, Holy Trinity and others were prepared to respond immediately when the recent shooting of police offices occurred. They now seek to address problems with housing, healthcare access, and payday lending that are connected to racial disparity. Other stories of hope abound—in Minneapolis, New Orleans, Savannah, Springfield, and countless other cities.
If you feel as inspired by these stories as we do, then take that as a sign of encouragement from the Holy Spirit to discern how your own community might be called to respond.
Here’s how you can get started.
What is the Holy Spirit calling you to do, together with your family, neighborhood, parish, school, or other faith community? What will be your first step?