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2008 Seeds of Peace Chapter Act: Growing in Nonviolence

Context

The challenge to live our Constitutions was a refrain echoing throughout the Chapter, heard in one form or another from Sheila Lemieux, CSJP, in her introductory remarks, from Nancy Sylvester, IHM, and from John Dear, SJ. We are people of peace, open to the liberating power of God (Constitution 28), committed to live and proclaim Christ's gospel of peace (Constitution 20), experiencing our own need for continuing conversion (Constitution 10), and willing to become peacemakers in the spirit of the beatitudes (Constitution 39). Our vows and covenants commit us to walk in the way of peace (Constitution 40), our history has set a direction, and our experience of contemporary society compels us forward.

Today we stand at a new crossing place. We live in a society marked strongly by the violence of war, violence to people through poverty and a sense of powerlessness and alienation, violence to earth, sea, and sky – violence that is truly cosmic. In response we commit ourselves to grow more deeply toward a nonviolent way of being and acting as peacemakers.

Commitment

"The very name Sisters of Peace will, it is hoped, inspire the desire of peace and a love for it." Mother Clare in the original 1884 Constitutions.

As people of peace, we commit ourselves:

  • to nonviolence grounded in contemplative prayer and reflection
  • to nonviolence practiced in our daily lives and ministries
  • to nonviolence in the protection of all life
  • to active nonviolence as we resist the reality of evil

Sowing the Seeds of Peace

"You will hope, if God blesses your work, to sow the seeds of peace in modern society." Bishop Bagshawe at the profession of the first Sisters of Peace, January 7, 1884

The lens of nonviolence brings new insights and commitments to all aspects of our lives together. We commit to look with eyes of compassion, to relate with openness and hospitality, and to act from a center of contemplative prayer, peace and passion. Our prayer and study lead us to actions which "make our own the concerns of the human family ... especially those who are poor and oppressed." (Constitution 55).

We call ourselves to prayer.

  • Congregational weekly peace prayer
  • Examination of Consciousness related to nonviolence
  • Regular reflection on the Beatitudes/Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and Constitutions

We call ourselves to study.

  • History and people of nonviolence
  • Constitutions and writings of Margaret Anna Cusack and community members, read through the lens of nonviolence
  • Contemporary resources for practice of nonviolence

We call ourselves to action.

  • Practice nonviolence in all relationships, with self, one another, Earth, and Cosmos
  • Stand in solidarity with those who are poor and respond to injustice with creativity, passion and nonviolence
  • Practice nonviolence in communication, reconciliation and forgiveness
  • Live nonviolence in our choices as citizens and consumers
  • Practice nonviolence in collaboration with others to heal the violence in our world
  • As individuals, we will discern if we are called to take a vow of nonviolence

Practical guides for prayer, study and action will be developed and shared throughout the Congregation.

Growing in Nonviolence

"If our role as messengers of God’s good news means anything to us, the chorus of people begging for peace will touch a special place in our hearts. "

Patricia Lynch, CSJP