By Gaby Galindo
LOGOS PHOTO EDITOR
Several community organizations staged a one-hour, candlelight silent vigil Sunday, Nov. 22, at the University of the Incarnate Word for all those suffering from violence in the world.
The event from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Dubuis Lawn was cosponsored by the Council on American Islamic Relations, Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation, Dialogue Institute of the Southwest, San Antonio Muslim Women’s Association, San Antonio peaceCENTER, SoL Center University Presbyterian Church, and the Incarnate Word Sisters International Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Committee.
People from all walks of life came with friends, families and even their pets to participate in this event calling for worldwide peace. They brought candles, battery-powered candles, or were given a small white candle.
Sister Martha Ann Kirk, a longtime professor of religious studies at UIW, began the vigil by introducing several special guests of different faiths, showing their solidarity and support of this event.
The attendees then began lighting each other’s candles and proceeded to slowly and silently walk in a circle around a Peace Pole centered on the lawn. They continued circling this pole in silent, solemn reflection about half an hour.
Kirk then halted the walk and called everyone to gather close around the Peace Pole. She explained the Peace Pole was originated in Japan by Masahisa Goi. Greatly affected by the violence and destruction of World War II, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Goi was inspired to spread the Peace Message, “May Peace Prevail On Earth” in 1955, Kirk said.
This message is inscribed into the Peace Pole in several languages, including Spanish, French, Swahili, Arabic, Vietnamese, etc. Kirk invited everyone to read the message of peace in whichever language they knew and spoke. Afterwards, she encouraged everyone to talk with each other and make some new friends before leaving, saying the world is made into a better place with each new friend one makes.
“All the different religions in the world have one thing in common,” said Sister Alice Holden, “Besides being born of a mother and a father, the common thing is that we are all sparks of the divine. We’re all shedding that light of divinity from inside. Only when we come to realize it though do we live according to that spark.”
Abdur-Rahim Muhammad, a retired chaplain, said the vigil helped promote “a greater recognition of the fact that we have good people who are doing their best to make a difference in a positive way.”
In a notice sent out about the event, Kirk wrote the vigil was “for those suffering from violence, the families and the countries, the victims and perpetrators, ourselves and the others.”