Now that Catholics in Tompkins County have successfully established an annual Mass for Peace, their next goal is to reinforce that event’s message throughout the year.
Nearly 200 people came together for an evening liturgy Sept. 21 at All Saints Church in Lansing. The Mass was held in conjunction with the International Day of Peace that falls on that date. With the large congregation and a combined choir of approximately 60 people — as well as musical input from a multiparish group of teens and the Finger Lakes Women’s Chorale — the event was a successful follow-up to the inaugural Mass for Peace held last year at Immaculate Conception Church in Ithaca.
During his homily Father Daniel McMullin, who served as celebrant, challenged the congregation to take to heart the teaching of Jesus to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek and not to kill. These ideals were weighed against the condoning of war.
"His was a message both of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. Faithfulness to the whole of the Gospel demands much discernment and often calls us to face our sinfulness," remarked Sister Doreen Glynn, CSJ, pastoral associate in the northern Tompkins cluster of All Saints; Holy Cross, Dryden; and St. Anthony, Groton. She and Father McMullin, director of Cornell Catholic Community, served as event cochairs.
Sister Glynn said promoting advocacy was a key component of the gathering in Lansing, as organizers made available petitions urging our senators to support the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the United States and Russia. Numerous people signed this petition, which will be forwarded to Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. In addition, prepared letters to President Barack Obama were distributed, asking him to develop a transition plan to end military action in Afghanistan and stating the opinion that the war in Afghanistan cannot be won by military force — rather, the only solution is through peaceful means including dialogue, diplomatic cooperation and humanitarian aid. Organizers planned to then mail the many letters that were individually signed.
"We wanted not only to offer an opportunity for people to come together to worship, but also to engage in some action promoting peace," Sister Glynn remarked. She added that in addition to holding a Mass for Peace each year, organizers "would like to expand it to include workshops on peacemaking and nonviolence."
In both 2009 and 2010, the Mass for Peace has been a collaborative effort of all seven faith communities in the Tompkins planning group. Along with the northern Tompkins cluster, Immaculate Conception and Cornell, remaining planning-group members are St. Catherine of Siena, Ithaca; and the Ithaca College Catholic Community. This year’s Mass for Peace also included participation from St. James Parish in Trumansburg — which is in Tompkins County but part of a different planning group — and Catholic Charities.
International Day of Peace was established by the United Nations in 1981. It calls for a 24-hour cease-fire of all military battles around the world every Sept. 21, and encourages public demonstrations of peace on that date such as the Masses in Ithaca and Lansing.