Last Sunday, during the peace offering, I met the eyes of a mother who lost her 16 year old to violence just over a year ago. She has remained faithful to stand with our congregation, to reflect on the values we profess, namely, that we stand together as a family who will care for one another. She also invites her other children to mass every so often perhaps to remind them of the commitment of family to care for one another. Walking and celebrating together seems to give her strength. It gives me strength.
The pain of losing a child through violence can be so overwhelming. We all know the pain of being without loved ones who have died from other circumstances is overwhelming enough. And the pain of separation from loved ones through unjust deportations, incarcerations, and various tragedies associated with our difficult economy, is also an overwhelming feeling of loss. But to lose a child to violence is probably one of the most tragically painful realities we face.
The child represents so much of our dreams, hopes and remembrance of innocence. As a parish our emphasis on education, providing new vistas and horizons, formation in religious education – so much about children gives us meaning in life, and strength in our leadership and vision, especially when we are faced with fear or oppression.
When a child is lost, however, our heart seems to be lost as well. We are weakened and want to give up. Where are we to be consoled and discover hope once again? This week we willed be afforded some time to ponder how we can hope or be a people of hope in the midst of the death of our children. We celebrate the Day of the Dead, and we walk for peace that keeps our children safe and protected.
Remember our lost children. Stand together for peace. Create a new world for the children who are with us. Building on its vigils against violence in the 1990s, and its current vigils and monthly Taizé Services to remember our lost children, Hyde Park Union Church is coordinating an anti-violence effort in partnership with community groups and faith communities from across Chicago. Our own marimba ensemble and children’s choir will participate in a series of concerts across the City, including one at Holy Cross Church, Friday, November 4th, 7 PM. After the service, the congregation will walk in the streets of our neighborhood with candles remembering the peace to which we are called. Check out www.urbandolorosa.com for more information.
Peace be with you!
Fr. Bruce Wellems, CMF