Regional Mass for Peace set for Sept. 21 in Ithaca - Catholic Courier

Regional Mass for Peace set for Sept. 21 in Ithaca

"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me."

Thanks to the collaboration of seven faith communities, folks in Tompkins County can proudly substitute "us" as the final word of this well-known hymn’s opening line.

Regional unity will be evident during a Mass for Peace set for Monday, Sept. 21, at Ithaca’s Immaculate Conception Church beginning at 7 p.m. All are invited to the liturgy, which falls on the International Day of Peace and will be celebrated by Bishop Matthew H. Clark.

The Mass is a combined effort of the Tompkins Planning Group’s seven faith communities: Immaculate Conception and St. Catherine of Siena in Ithaca; All Saints, Lansing; Holy Cross, Dryden; St. Anthony, Groton; and the Catholic communities at Ithaca College and Cornell University. Area choirs will join together under the direction of Sherry Scanza, music director at St. Catherine.

Sister Mary O’Brien, CSJ, who serves as St. Catherine’s temporary pastoral administrator, said she suggested the idea for a regional Peace Mass to the planning group based on a similar event at St. Catherine in May 2008. That liturgy was held in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the U.S. bishops’ historic pastoral letter, "The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response." Sister O’Brien said the Mass was so successful that St. Catherine sought to make it an annual affair, and from there other faith communities were invited to join in, as was Bishop Clark.

"Since this is an inaugural event for our region, our committee wanted to draw special attention to the Gospel challenge to both pray and work for peace. We wanted to invite someone who was a well-known public figure in order to draw a large number to the Mass, but also someone who could connect the Gospel message with our Catholic social teachings," Sister O’Brien said, adding that Bishop Clark was their first choice: "We were thrilled when he agreed to come and serve as presider and homilist."

Sister O’Brien added that a gift will be made to the bishop in thanksgiving for his presence and to honor him on the feast of St. Matthew, which also falls on Sept. 21. A reception will take place following the Mass, during which peace-making materials and legislative advocacy alerts promoting peace and nuclear disarmament will be distributed.

"We wanted to emphasize the concept that prayer and advocacy efforts go hand in hand," Sister O’Brien noted.

International Day of Peace was established by the United Nations in 1981 as an annual observance. It calls for a 24-hour cease-fire of all military battles around the world, and encourages public demonstrations of peace on that day such as the one to take place at Immaculate Conception.

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