FALL RIVER—Earlier this summer, in light of recent incidents of violence and racial tensions in communities across the United States, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) invited dioceses across the country to unite in a Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities on Friday, September 9.
In the Fall River Diocese, Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., is asking all -clergy, religious and laity- to commit to a month of daily prayer for peace, beginning on Friday, September 9, and concluding on Monday, October 10, the date of the annual diocesan Procession and Mass for Peace.
Bishop da Cunha is encouraging all to pray for peace during that period in their parishes through the prayers of the Mass as well as individually in personal prayer. The bishop is suggesting that a daily Rosary for peace be part of the personal prayer life of diocesan Catholics throughout the month.
“From the start I supported the USCCB’s initiative for a National Day of Prayer for Peace and I knew I wanted our Diocese to be part of it,” Bishop da Cunha explained. “At the same time, I know we have a well-established tradition of a march and a Mass for peace in Fall River on Columbus Day. I thought why not link the two, using September 9th as the start and October 10th as the end, to designate an approximate month-long period for concentrated daily prayers for peace in our diocese.”
The bishop also noted that the time frame includes the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
“I strongly encourage all members of our diocese to join me in this special period of prayer for peace, and what better way than by praying the Rosary each day, asking for the intercession of Our Lady, Queen of Peace,” Bishop da Cunha said.
The annual diocesan Columbus Day Procession and Mass for Peace began in 1975 especially to pray for peace in Portugal but its emphasis has since broadened to include peace and justice worldwide.
The date designated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for the Day of Prayer for Peace, September 9, is the feast of Saint Peter Claver, a Spanish Jesuit missionary who devoted his life to the care of slaves in 17th century Cartagena, Columbia. Canonized in 1888, he became because of his work the patron saint of slaves, race relations, and ministry to African-Americans.
In related action, the USCCB President also established a Task Force to offer resources to help bishops promote peace and healing and to resolve conflicts in troubled communities. The Task Force is expected to present its recommendations at the November USCCB meeting.