Thursday, April 10, 2003

Catholic students gather to call for end to Iraq war



By William A. Weathers
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Students from Catholic schools prayed and sang for peace on Fountain Square on Wednesday, showing solidarity with the church's leadership and calling for a quick end to the war in Iraq.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
Despite a chill wind, 85 people - many of them Catholic high school students - held a "Vigil for Peace" on Fountain Square on Wednesday night.

"This is a prayer service - a prayer vigil for peace," Matt Kemper, community service coordinator at St. Xavier High School, told those at the gathering.

The program included prayers for peace by students, musical selections and comments from featured speaker Sister Alice Gerdeman, executive director of the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center.

"In a time of war, there is sorrow on all sides," she said. "The loss of one soldier is a tragedy, as is the loss of an Iraqi civilian or soldier."

Discussions about the war have not always been civil, Sister Gerdeman said.

"Name-calling and nastiness seemed to have risen to new heights," she said.

But peace activists"are not frightened by differing views," she said. "The way of peace and law is not always popular."

Pat Klus, a Seton High School student who read a prayer from Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, said the purpose of the 45-minute event was "getting young people together to be a voice for peace in these troubled times."

Said Laena Makia, a Mc-Auley senior: "We didn't gather here because it was an anti-war rally. We're here for the same cause - peace."

The prayer from Pilarczyk said in part:

"We pray that for the purposes for which our president has led us into this war - security for ourselves and our friends and a more humane regime for the people of Iraq - will be accomplished quickly and with minimal bloodshed on our part and on the part of our enemies."

"Let's have faith that our prayers were heard," Kemper said.

Students from La Salle, McAuley, Mercy, Moeller, Mount Notre Dame, Roger Bacon, St. Ursula, St. Xavier, Seton and Ursuline high schools participated.

E-mail bweathers@enquirer.com




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