ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure University will welcome representatives from various religious communities to offer a prayer for wisdom and guidance in preparation for Election Day.
The interfaith prayer service will be a celebration of The Spirit of Assisi and begin at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, in the University Chapel, Doyle Hall. Representatives of the Jewish, Muslim, Baha’i, Methodist, Buddhist, Hindu and Catholic faith communities will participate in the service, including St. Bonaventure students. The public is invited.
The first World Day of Prayer for Peace — oftentimes referred to as the “Spirit of Assisi” — was organized by Pope John Paul II and was first held in Assisi, Italy, on Oct. 27, 1986.
Fr. Francis Di Spigno, O.F.M., executive director of University Ministries at SBU, said the night before Election Day was chosen to celebrate the Spirit of Assisi this year so that a nation of many people, faiths, cultures and heritages would “come together to pray, with a united voice, for wisdom and guidance for our country.
“We will pray, as citizens of the United States for a unity that will make us strong, and as citizens of the Kingdom of God, we will pray to the One God that unites us all,” said Fr. Francis.
The Spirit of Assisi, he said, is the celebration of the unity that exists among all of God’s creation.
“For me, one of the most appealing aspects of St. Francis was that he was able to build bridges. He was able to speak with everyone and no one was afraid to speak with him. He reminded us, and continues to remind us, that the greatest is that which connects all of creation and God in the Incarnation. Because we are all part of God’s creation St. Francis was also able to see the bridges that exist between all peoples. It was because of this that in 1219 St. Francis was able to make the journey to Damietta, Egypt, to negotiate peace with the Sultan for he knew he was visiting a brother,” said Fr. Francis.
Some of those who plan to participate Monday shared their thoughts about the prayer service.
“By including our youth in this interfaith service, I look at this as an opportunity for our community and world to have hope and faith that wisdom, judgment and responsibility is alive and well,” said Marcia Storch, a member of Temple B’Nai Israel of Olean.
Brad Chesebro, pastor of Trinity Methodist Church in Olean, believes the interfaith service will be a powerful event.
“I am convinced it is necessary for the people in our area to come together to pray for those in authority, and also pray for wisdom and the knowledge of God’s will in the selection of those representatives,” he said. “God deeply loves the people of America and has plans and purposes for this great nation. This is an important time for all of God’s children to come together and pray for His will to be done and His Kingdom to come in 2013.”
“How urgent it is to hear the calls of wisdom embedded in religious traditions that encourage us to base public policy on love, compassion, and cooperation rather than on greed, fear, and division,” added Richard Reilly, Ph.D., who will be participating in Monday’s service. Reilly is director of the Dzogchen Ati Ling Meditation Center in Jamestown and a philosophy professor at SBU.
Stephanie Skandar of the Ba’hai faith hopes the unity will extend beyond the local community.
“Surely each time we, the people of different faiths, come together in prayer, God will look on us favorably and our unity will have a positive ripple effect on the rest of the country,” said Skandar.
Contact University Ministries at (716) 375-2600 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the prayer service. University Ministries’ Twitter handle is @BonasUMin.
About the University: Inspired for more than 150 years by the Catholic 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.