About 800 people of all faiths came to St. Mary’s University for the International Prayer for Peace, held in conjunction with the 11th Annual Catholic Intellectual Tradition Lecture Series and led by the Community of Sant’Egidio in Rome.

As the event was held in Rome on Oct. 1, 2013, the North American event occurred simultaneously at Bill Greehey Arena on the St. Mary’s campus. Many area congregations joined in this historic gathering, which included speakers, breakout sessions and music, with the common goal of promoting worldwide peace and interfaith dialogue.

“St. Mary’s is excited to welcome people of all faiths to celebrate our common bonds as human beings,” said St. Mary’s President Thomas M. Mengler, J.D. “Sharing our different perspectives helps promote peace and understanding, and that’s something we strive for at this University. We’re honored to be linked with universities like St. John’s and Georgetown, which have hosted this event in the past.”

The event was held in collaboration with the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

“These are challenging times as we seek peace in a world that yearns for a tranquility of heart among people that only God can give,” said The Most Reverend Gustavo García-Siller, M.Sp.S., Archbishop of San Antonio. “When nations are at war, communities are fractured and the bonds of friendship and respect between people have been severed, I welcome this day in which we can search together for a personal and global path to peace. We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with St. Mary’s University, the Community of Sant’Egidio and all people of goodwill for this prayerful day of God’s grace and peace.”

Each year various faith communities come together in Rome and Assisi, Italy, to celebrate peace as a sign of growing in unity as people of faith. These inter-religious, international meetings started in 1986 when the Community of Sant’Egidio took up the invitation from Pope John Paul II at the end of the first encounter held in Assisi: “Let’s keep spreading the message of peace and living the spirit of Assisi.”

Since then, through a network of friendship among representatives of different faiths and cultures, the Community of Sant’Egidio has promoted a pilgrimage of peace that has been held in several European venues.

The Community of Sant’Egidio began in Rome in 1968, after the Second Vatican Council. Today it is a movement of lay people that has more than 70,000 members dedicated to evangelization and charity in more than 73 countries.

Speakers included:

  • The Most Rev. Gustavo García-Siller, M.Sp.S., Archbishop of San Antonio
  • Andrea Bartoli, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University and representative of the Community of Sant’Egidio in the U.S.
  • Elisa Koppel, Associate Rabbi, Temple Beth-El, San Antonio
  • Imam Sohaib Sultan, Muslim Life Coordinator and Chaplain at Princeton University

The event also featured:

  • Video of Pope Francis and Rome event
  • Presentations on themes of peace and faith
  • Breakout sessions for discussion
  • Candlelight vigil service, led by religious and community leaders, at Barrett Memorial Bell Tower on campus
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