Peace Abbey emphasizes the mission of nonviolence
One important alternative focus for Remembrance in November and at other times has been the Pacifist Memorial at the site of the Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts, USA.
Established as a permanent site in 1994, the Pacifist Memorial "bears witness to humanity’s long-cherished pursuit of justice and peace through nonviolence and love", and its inspiration in Christian and other faiths. It was dedicated on the 125th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi that year.
The Peace Abbey project traces its roots to founder Lewis M. Randa's attendance at the Day of Prayer for World Peace which took place in Assisi, Italy, during the UN International Year of Peace in 1986, hosted by Pope John Paul II.
There, for the first time in history, the leaders of twelve major religions gathered to pray for peace on earth. The event took place on sacred ground at the Basilica of Saint Francis.
The Peace Abbey was created at Sherborne following a visit by Mother Teresa in 1988. Following that, it became a favourite place for retreatants and pilgrims from all over the world.
The building itself is now being sold to meet financial commitments. Its memorials are being maintained, with its materials and holdings transferred to the University of Massachusetts in Boston.
"While we will miss the extraordinarily peaceful location in Sherborn, the Abbey's outreach will be expanded on a university campus in countless ways that will further its peacemaking mission," Lewis Randa commented.
Peace Abbey supporters explain: "Our calling, as a community of able-bodied and challenged peacemakers, is to respond anew to the inspired calling St Francis received as he prayed at the dilapidated church of San Damiano in the twelfth century. 'Rebuild my church which is falling into disrepair' was the message Francis heard and around which he established his order.
"With time, however, Francis and his followers realized that Christ’s message to “rebuild my church,” concerned not only the physical (outer) structure, but more importantly, the spiritual (inner) structure. Materials of construction (stone, wood and mortar) were soon replaced by materials of grace (prayer, fasting and service). The church, Christ’s vehicle of grace, no longer served its divine mission and desperately needed to be rebuilt. It was Francis, the little poor man of Assisi and his humble followers who began the unending task of rebuilding the spirit of the church."
* More about the Peace Abbey - http://www.peaceabbey.org/about/
* Re-imagining Remembrance: a report from Ekklesia - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/research/reimagining_remembrance
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