Many faiths converge for prayer

By Sarah Fowler Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted June 08, 2003

In a Roman Catholic chapel in Lisle Saturday, believers gathered for a prayer service.

Only this time, the worshippers were not only Catholic, but Protestant, Jewish and Muslim, as well.

Almost 400 people from religious groups throughout the West suburbs attended the West Suburban Faith Based Coalition's peace march and rally at St. Procopius Abbey, said Sister Karen Nykiel of Sacred Heart Monastery in Lisle.

"Most of these people were against the war (with Iraq) to begin with," Nykiel said. "Thirty different groups got together and said, 'We are people of faith and people of peace. Let's work together.' "

The event began with the collection of more than 500 relief kits containing school supplies for Iraqi children. Then participants gathered inside the abbey for a prayer service featuring songs and speeches by peace activists.

Chicago-area schoolteacher and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness talked about her experiences in Iraq during the first few days of the war.

There, she watched young children continually grind their teeth in fear and older children refuse to go to bed at night because they said they might not wake up in the morning.

"That's how a 3-year-old copes," she said. "That's how a 9- or 10-year-old copes with the fear ... that this might be his last day to live."

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, a priest in an inner-city Detroit neighborhood and co-founder of the Catholic peace movement Pax Christi USA, told audience members their faith should bring them together on behalf of peace.

"We say we are people of faith, and if we really are, then we will be people of peace," he said, "because people of faith will use the power of love to end war."

The service was followed by a march down Maple Street and an outdoor rally.

Sally Sommers of Villa Park said she attended the event in hopes it would motivate people of faith to get involved in issues of peace and justice.

"This is just the beginning," Sommers said. "(The purpose) is really to move the people in the pews ... to know their words will make a difference."

Coalition organizer Dave Martin of Lombard said he thought the event would make a difference in churches, synagogues and mosques throughout the community.

"I think what will have the biggest impact is that there's probably 30 different (religious groups) represented here," he said. "Those people are going to go back and keep working within their communities."