ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure University will welcome representatives from various religious communities to offer a prayer for peace in their faith tradition, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the first World Day of Prayer for Peace, sometimes called “the Spirit of Assisi.”
A prayer service marking this 25th anniversary will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, in the University Chapel, Doyle Hall.
Represented in this celebration are the Unitarian, Buddhist, Islamic, Hindu, Baha’i, Christian, Jewish, and Native American communities.
Fr. Francis Di Spigno, O.F.M., guardian of St. Bonaventure Friary and executive director of University Ministries on campus, will offer a reflection during the ceremony.
In a world that seems to becoming more and more fractured and divided, Fr. Francis says reclaiming the “Spirit of Assisi” that Pope John Paul II initiated 25 years ago is an opportunity to highlight that which we have in common.
“Oftentimes in our desire for security, or even self definition, we push aside anything that is different than what we know, who we are or what we understand. Our prayer in the University Chapel will echo the other prayer services throughout the country and the world in our common prayer and desire for a peace that is strengthened by our diversity, not weakened,” Fr. Francis said.
Marcia Storch, a member of Temple B’Nai Israel of Olean, said she is “happy to see so many faiths coming together to express their desire for peace in our community, country, and world.
“As a person who applauds diversity in our community, the Jewish community is excited to be a part of this historical and spiritual occasion,” Storch said.
The first World Day of Prayer for Peace was organized by Pope John Paul II and was held in Assisi on Oct. 27, 1986. Some 160 religious leaders from around the world gathered for a day of fasting and prayer for peace across the globe. The event carried the message that all people of good will, no matter what their origins are, share the desire for peace. Pope John Paul II chose the city of Assisi to be the center of this event “due to the special significance of the saint venerated here, St. Francis, who is known by many all over the planet to be a symbol of peace, reconciliation, and brotherhood.”
To mark the 25th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s gathering with religious leaders in Assisi, Pope Benedict XVI has called for a new gathering in the Italian town Oct. 27.
Zahid Y. Khairullah, Ph.D., chair of the Board of Trustees and a founding member of the Islamic Society of the Southern Tier, said local Muslims are looking forward to the celebration at St. Bonaventure.
“Having dialogue and working together within the different faiths in a community is really important to people of all faiths to promote harmony and understanding of all people. As a representative of the Muslim community, we are very supportive of this and are happy to participate in this event,” said Khairullah, who is a longtime faculty member in St. Bonaventure’s School of Business.
“Religious traditions are united in seeking peace — peace in our hearts, peace within the community, peace among nations, and living harmoniously with nature,” added Richard Reilly, Ph.D., director of the Dzogchen Ati Ling Meditation Center in Jamestown and a philosophy professor at SBU. “St. Bonaventure’s celebration of the ‘Spirit of Assisi’ is an inspiring invitation to be a peacemaker in word, thought and deed.”
About the University: Inspired for more than 150 years by the Franciscan values of individual dignity, community inclusiveness, and service, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them.