World Peace Day Masses celebrated in archdiocese
January 5, 2011
ARCHDIOCESE — Several hundred people gathered in both Cincinnati and Dayton Jan. 1 for Masses celebrating the 44th annual World Day of Peace.
Mares Bermas, left, of the Filipino community, and Helena Yoon of the Korean community, carry candles in the opening procession at the World Peace Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains.
In recognition of this many refugees, both individuals and families, who now reside in the archdiocese, participated in both Masses. Among them were representatives of the Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino,Indian, Syro-Malabar, Iraqi, Sudanese, Burundi and Latin American communities.
New Year’s Day is designated by the pope as a special opportunity for the universal church to pray for a year of greater peace, respect for life and social justice. Pope Benedict XVI declared the theme for the 2011 World Peace Day Mass as “Religious Freedom, the Path to Peace.” The liturgies were held simultaneously at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains, where Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr presided, and St.Henry Church in Dayton, with Father Thomas Shearer, pastor, as the celebrant.
In the opening procession at the cathedral, participants carried candles representing the light of religious freedom “which has illuminated the paths from their own countries and made the light of the church of Cincinnati shine even more brightly,” said Tony Stieritz, director of the archdiocesan Catholic Social Action Office.
“It was wonderful to see our local Catholic Church gathered even more in its true universality. By coming together as one human family in this Mass, we were all helped along in our common discipleship and work of building world peace,” he added.
Francis Tai from the Vietnamese community of Our Lady of Lavang serves as a lector during the Mass.
According to Pam Long, regional director of the Catholic Social Action Office in Dayton, St. Henry Church was selected as the site for the Mass because administrators and teachers at Bishop Leibold Consolidated School, which serves the parish, had conducted an in-service on Catholic social teaching themes at the beginning of the school year. Each grade level had a theme, some of which were incorporated into the message for World Peace Day, including peace, caring for God’s creation and the right to prayer.
In his homily Archbishop Schnurr noted, “We gather to proclaim that the world needs God because true and lasting peace is a gift that God alone can give. Peace is anchored in the ability of each individual to discover who he or she is in the eyes of God, to discover who God created him or her to be. In that discovery comes personal peace. Our restless heart finds rest. Only then, after having discovered the path to personal peace through the free exercise and expression of our faith, are we equipped to show the world the path to peace.”
“It was a beautiful liturgy that reminded us of how we are all members of one human family,” Long said. “We gathered in unity with people at the Mass who had crossed continents and oceans sometime in their lives to arrive on this one day at St. Henry Church. We left witnessing to peace and in prayer for religious freedom.”