BY SAVANNA BUCKNER
A primarily impromptu, student initiative developed into a prayer vigil for Syria on Sat., Sept. 7, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace.
“It was very powerful to be able to unite our prayers for Syria, especially by placing our intentions in the hands of our Mother, Mary,” said sophomore Regina Mayer.
Led by Victor Bermudez and co-sponsored by Students for a Fair Society, the vigil began at 2 p.m. with a scriptural rosary procession around Franciscan University’s campus.
The procession wound its way to Christ the King Chapel where Fr. Dan Pattee, TOR, led a holy hour. Over 70 people joined in reciting the Divine Mercy chaplet, singing hymns and spending time in silent Eucharistic adoration.
Student Michael Maldonado described the prayer vigil as a special way to offer up the day to God and answer Pope Francis’ appeal for fasting and prayer. Maldonado said he felt called to attend the prayer vigil because God demands action from us. “‘If not you, who? If not now, when? If not here, where? If you don’t answer the call, who will?'” he quoted.
Pope Francis proclaimed Sept. 7 to be a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East and throughout the world. “I invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative,” said Pope Francis.
The prayer vigil at Franciscan University was a way for students to participate in spirit in the five-hour evening prayer service that Pope Francis held in St. Peter’s Square.
“How I wish that all men and women of good will would look to the Cross if only for a moment,” said Pope Francis during his homily on Sept. 7. “There, we can see God’s reply: violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death. In the silence of the Cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue, and peace is spoken.”
During the prayer vigil for Syria at Franciscan, Pattee delivered a reading from Paul’s letter to the Colossians. He said that the reading fittingly demonstrated that the peace we pray for is more than simply a cease-fire. “Peace is an interior fruit of having been reconciled with the creator of the universe,” said Pattee.
As strife in Syria escalates, President Obama has called on Congress to authorize U.S. military action in Syria. Polls conducted by ABC News and the Pew Research Center have found that the majority of Americans oppose U.S. missile strikes against Syria.