Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mini-Sabbath Focuses on Ending Gun Violence

A few weeks ago we hosted a group of approximately 60 people at our motherhouse in Aston for a Mini-Sabbath ritual memorializing the 32 men, women, and children from Delaware County who were victims of gun violence in 2013. The gathering was held in our chapelAttendees included a number of our sisters as well as guests from various parts of Delaware County. The service was actually one of many similar vigils held in churches, synagogues, and mosques throughout the country that same weekend—each calling attention to the need for an end to gun violence. These gatherings were one facet of a number of efforts organized by Heeding God’s Call, a national organization focused on drawing attention to the ongoing problem of gun violence. Several of our sisters have been participating in the Chester Delco Chapter’s ongoing efforts to persuade the owner of a local gun shop to adopt a code of conduct to prohibit straw purchases of guns. Anna’s Place in Chester is a member of the local chapter and, in association with our congregational advocacy committee, sponsored the Mini Sabbath.  

The program, prepared by Srs. Maria Orlandini and Jean Rupertus, featured a variety of speakers. Sr. Marie Lucey, director of advocacy and member relations for Franciscan Action Network (FAN), shared a reflection on John 14:27 (the Last Supper discourse) and called attendees to work for peace on all levels. Several of the presenters spoke to the issue of gun violence from very personal experiences. Bryan Miller, executive director of Heeding God’s Call, became involved in advocating for an end to gun violence after his brother, a law enforcement officer, was killed in a massacre at a Washington, DC police headquarters. Movita Johnson-Harrell, shared the story of her son—a victim of gun violence. Similarly Rev. David Townsend, described the tragic loss of Anthony, his young son, who was kill as a result of gun violence.

 Leaders of the Mini-Sabbath, Sr. Jean Rupertus, Sr. Marie Lucey, Bryan, Miller, Movita Johnson-Harrell, and Rev. David Townsend, join the congregation in a blessing for the victims of gun violence. 
 
 Bryan Miller called participants to action to end the trauma and despair caused by gun violence.
 
Movita Johnson-Harrell (above) and Rev. David Townsend (below) shared stories of their children who were victims of gun violence.

 A group of Neumann University students also participated in the program. At one point in the program, these young women and men were involved in a memorial ceremony in remembering those who had died as a result of gun violence. As the names of the deceased were read, 32 pairs of shoes were placed around a display of candles, each pair and each candle representing one of the murdered individuals.
Neumann University students joined in creating a memorial commemorating the men, women, and children—victims of gun violence whose shoes will never be filled.
 
 The Mini-Sabbath ritual spoke a clear message to those who were present. However, the event leaders made it clear that efforts to eliminate gun violence are not complete. In addition to ongoing outreach to the families of victims, participants were reminded that ongoing advocacy is necessary: vigiling and dialogue with gun shop owners, public vigils at sites where murders took place, and continued dialogue with state and national leaders.
 
Sr. Maria Orlandini led participants in a pledge to contine advocating for a “day when guns and weapons of destruction are transformed into instruments of healing.”
 

1 comment:

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Very much needed for sure. Although I've not heard of Mini Sabbaths before, the advocacy for ending gun violence is a worthy cause. In view of the recent shootings at Fort Hood yesterday and at Kent State university here in Ohio, I'm Praying for all those that have been affected and for the end of gun violence too.

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