Pope Francis chose the theme, ‘Education, work and dialogue between generations: tools for building lasting peace,’ for his World Peace Day message on 1 January 2022. He felt, “all can work together to build a more peaceful world, starting from the hearts of individuals and relationships in the family, then within society and with the environment, and all the way up to relationships between peoples and nations.” The Church is invited at the very start of every year to commit once more to peacemaking.
“Peace Sunday – which we will celebrate on 16th January in England and Wales – invites us to celebrate and commit to a journey together to the Christian tradition of peacemaking and to reject the logic of violence,” says Fr. Rob Esdaile of Thames Ditton parish in Arundel and Brighton Diocese, who writes Pax Christi’s materials for parishes. He feels, “the call to inter-generational dialogue has a particular resonance as the Church walks together on the ‘Synodal Path’, and adds that, “I hope that in my own parish and in parishes around the country that art of listening to each other will help us all to become better witnesses to peace in our world.”
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool, acknowledged that the past year has been one of unprecedented and continuing challenges. “We are all conscious of the need to restore and rebuild our communities here and around the world, accepting that we need new ways of working and relating to each other, he said. He urged practical support of Pax Christi’s peacework, saying, “the Christian message of peace, through reconciliation, justice and nonviolence, can offer hope and direction in these times.”
Dioceses of Birmingham, Brentwood, Hexham & Newcastle and Southwark are amongst those urging on their websites that Peace Sunday 2022 is marked. The Westminster and North-West Justice and Peace e-bulletins have also promoted the 16th January focus on peace. Columbans in Britain have used social media to draw attention to resources and Columban support of the Vatican’s Nonviolence Initiative. Columbans work for peace and arms reductions in many countries, including Korea, the Philippines and the United States.
Columbans are members and partners of Pax Christi International and Pax Christi England and Wales. The latter promotes Peace Sunday. It is a membership organisation, hoping to regain momentum since last year’s observance of Peace Sunday was so curtailed by Covid. Pax Christi relies on Peace Sunday donations to help fund its work, and those were down by 75 percent in 2021. This goes alongside providing materials for parishes, schools and families to explore their role in peacemaking. Parishes are asked to print out the liturgy booklet which includes ready-to-use penitential prayers, homily reflections by Fr. Rob Esdaile, and bidding prayers, as well as organise a collection.
The Pax Christi England and Wales website offers, ‘Activities & Prayers’ pages for children’s liturgies and for schools. Education Worker, Aisling Griffin, offers assembly/form-time notes and an ‘Artists for Peace’ project, inviting young people to create images, videos, graphics, that illustrate the link between peace and care of creation.
Peace Sunday was marked in Scotland on 2nd January. An annual letter to all parishes for the Day of Prayer for Peace was read out. It was written by Bishop William Nolan, who is the Bishop of Galloway and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland Justice and Peace Commission. He contrasted the vast sums spent on military spending with the millions of displaced people facing persecution and poverty. He called on Catholics to “recognise the dignity of our fellow human beings, particularly those who are strangers to us.” Columbans endorse that message.