Sr. Nancyann Turner was among the sisters who conceived the Capuchin Ministries sponsored observance of the International Day of Prayer for Peace over a decade ago. As part of the international community of Dominican sisters who were particularly aware of the plight of their Iraqi counterparts at that time, they felt that it would be good to make a statement about the importance of peace. They presented the idea to Brother Jerry Smith, Director of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen Ministries.
“He embraced the idea right away,” she recalls.
The effort expanded quickly, says Turner, soon encompassing participants of many faiths with significant participation from the Baptist, Methodist and Muslim communities.
On Wednesday, September 24, at 7:00 pm, metro Detroiters are invited to participate in this year’s prayer service at the St. Bonaventure Monastery Chapel at 1780 Mount Elliott in Detroit. The service will feature Bishop Michael J. Byrnes speaking on “Peace is the Right for all People.”
The theme of this year’s observance “Right of Peoples to Peace” honors of the 30th anniversary of the UN’s General Assembly Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace.
The annual International Day of Prayer for Peace was established by a United Nations resolution in 1982. In 2001, an additional resolution declared September 21 (the actual date of the International Day of Prayer) an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire.
“We will be praying over the plight of Syria and the plight of Detroit,” says Turner, who manages the Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s Rosa Parks Children / Youth program. “We will also celebrate the power of community in overcoming violence. Many faiths will be represented through readings. We invite all to join us as we pray for peace in the world and peace in Detroit. We are joining with others throughout the world on this day to pray for peace and to bless places that especially need our prayers for peace.”
The idea of peace for all peoples is a day to day reality for Turner, working with Detroit children and families across faith backgrounds on programs like after school tutoring, art therapy, support groups for boys, girls, and mothers, reading programs, field trips, leadership training, and an annual peace camp.
“We give the children a safe place to express their feelings,” says Turner. “These kids are the future and we want to build them up and give them power. We’re stretching their imaginations so we can address the violence in our city.”
Several of her peace camp graduates recently came back to her with proof that they could imagine peace. They wanted to teach at peace camp. “I can’t hire you till you show me a curriculum,” answered Turner. And they did.
The Day of Prayer for Peace prayer service will feature the Detroit Dearing Dance Company, which includes some of the Rosa Parks students, as well as the Capuchin Soup Kitchen Choir. One of the Rosa Parks students will offer a reflection on staying out of the violence and becoming a contributing member of the community of Detroit.
“What’s really interesting,” says Turner, is “how all of the community and all of our faiths don’t want violence. We all cherish life and want to respect life. Religion should be about life”
Each participant in the service will be invited to make a vow of non-violence, and will receive a card with a prayer and peace saying.
The most important thing for members of the community to do, says Turner, is “live peace and teach peace. Be willing to build relationships of peace and compassion with different people. We all need to be building community.”
The Capuchin Ministries are dedicated to the principals of social justice and caring for the needy that have been foremost in the Capuchin order since its origins in the early 1500s. In addition to the Rosa Parks program, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen ministries include a meal program, substance abuse assistance, an urban farm, a service center that helps those needing, food, clothing and household goods, and the On the Rise Bakery, which helps transition those formerly incarcerated or struggling with substance abuse as they reenter society.