Peace Sunday in England and Wales is on 19 January. Each year Pax Christi, the UK branch of the international Catholic peace organisation, promotes the Pope's World Peace Day message. This year, the message of Pope Francis is, 'Peace as a Journey of Hope: Dialogue, Reconciliation and Ecological Conversion'.
Pax Christi has sent a mailing to every parish in England and Wales, and around 20,000 extra prayer cards have been sent upon request. There is an annual appeal to parishes across the country to do a collection for Pax Christi UK, which relies on that income. There is Individual and Group Membership of Pax Christi available.
Many Pax Christi members are giving talks in their parishes this weekend. Theresa Alessandro, Pax Christi's Director, is speaking in her own parish in Leicester on Peace Sunday and in a parish in Coventry on the following weekend.
Pat Gaffney, a former Director, will speak after the 10.30am Sunday Mass at St Mellitus, Tollington Park, on the theme of 'Peace as a Journey of Hope' and reporting on her recent visit to Israel and Palestine. Ann Farr, who was an ecumenical accompanier in Palestine, will speak at both Masses at St Thomas More in Coventry.
Anne Dodd, a former Pax Christi chair, will address Sunday Masses in Abingdon parish, Portsmouth Diocese.
Liverpool Archdiocese's J&P worker, Steve Atherton, is speaking at two churches, and many other parishes in the archdiocese will have Pax Christi stalls. In Hallam, Anne Peacy, chair of the National Justice and Peace Network, will give a Pax Christi talk at both Sunday morning Masses in her parish and hand out peace prayer cards. Sr Katrina Alton will speak at a York parish in Middlesbrough Diocese.
East Anglia Diocese will see parishioners of St Laurence parish in Cambridge undertake a "virtual" Peace Trail around the town, led by Pax Christi member Arn Dekker. The sites will be viewed through a presentation following the 11am Mass, detailing people who had a connection with Cambridge and were active in their lives for the cause of peace and social justice.
St Aidan's, Coulsdon. in Southwark Archdiocese, is having retiring collections for Pax Christi, as well an explanation on the work of Pax Christi in its newsletter. In the Catholic Parish of Guildford, Arundel and Brighton, a collection will be taken at all eight Masses over the weekend, and Pax Christi member John Williams is speaking at the end of Masses.
Appropriate Bidding Prayers have been prepared. Fr Ron Esdaile reports from his parish of Our Lady of Lourdes parish, Thames Ditton, that it is welcoming a 'Lampadusa Cross', symbol of the refugee flows that warfare causes, which will also be used that afternoon in the local churches' celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
In its January newsletter, Lancaster Faith and Justice Commission reminded each parish that it had been sent the Peace Sunday liturgy booklet and provided links for downloading it, along with Pope Francis' World Peace Day Message and a reflection on it by the co-presidents of Pax Christi International, Bishop Marc Stenger, Bishop of Troyes, France and Sr Teresia Wamuyu Wachira (IBVM) from Kenya.
One popular idea from St Wilfrid's, Preston, has been to recycle the church Christmas Tree into a Peace Tree. Parishioners will be given a paper dove as they come into church and asked to write a situation, place, person in need of peace. The prayer doves will be hung on the tree.
Pax Christi's Peace Sunday resources include a script that can be read at Mass on Peace Sunday, a prayercard and a downloadable powerpoint, suitable for school assemblies and based on the themes of the peace message. Also, the text of the World Peace Day Message of Pope Francis.
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