Memorial Day Statement 2006
The peace works of Secular Franciscans

Memorial Day Statement
 from the National Peace and Justice Commission
 of the Secular Franciscan Order

In 2005 the National Peace and Justice Commission of the Secular Franciscan Order created a statement for Memorial Day.  We recalled the letter the SFO Executive Council sent to President Bush in 2003 asking him not to invade Iraq. 

This year, with the war continuing unabated, we recall the words of John Paul II who said in 2003, “War is always a defeat for humanity.”  The first defeat is that the war was not avoided.  With the ease of communication among all world leaders today, peace discussions can and should  continue to a successful conclusion.  The second defeat is the loss of life and damage to the environment  that cannot be made new again.  The third defeat is that war cannot have a successful conclusion.  The bitterness left after a peace treaty between victor and vanquished will lay the foundation for the next war—very  soon or generations later.    

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches in #2307: “The fifth commandment forbids the intentional destruction of human life.  Because of the evils and injustices that accompany all war, the Church insistently urges everyone to prayer and to action so that the divine Goodness may free us from the ancient bondage of war.”

Our mission as followers of Jesus living the Gospel in the spirit of St. Francis is to move toward a culture of peace.   We must see with a new vision that every human being is our very own sister and brother.  As we begin to see the world through the eyes of Christ, the violence is appalling, and we will commit ourselves to ending it.  We will do the work of peace and contribute to the world’s nonviolent transformation. 

Members of the Franciscan family are doing the work of peace in different ways.  That is because there is not one work of peace.   Peace must be approached in various ways, as different people are directed by the Holy Spirit. 

The Appendix to this statement gives examples of different ways members of the  Franciscan family do the work of peace. 

Members of the National Peace and Justice Commission
Carolyn Colburn, sfo, Chair
Theresa Egan, sfo
Jo-Anne Hardwick, sfo
Ray Hardwick, sfo
Patricia Mulligan, sfo
Father David Moczulski, OFM, Spiritual Assistant



You Who live without slumber or sleep,
You Who contain all that is in the heavens and the earth,
You Who know all our actions,
while we grasp but a fraction of Your knowledge,
Guide us to the path of peace through the example of Your prophet Abraham.

In Judaism is the star of David.
Let it be the star of peace,
shining through the land of Israel and beyond.
In Christianity is the shepherd of peace.
Let his reign begin for all your children called to be his flock;

from every nation peace their motto be.
In Islam is the abode of peace. 
Let it expand and expand
engulfing all claimants to Abraham’s faith
be they Jews,
be they Christians,
and also, in Your mercy,
be they Muslims.

Abridged from a poem by Bruce B. Lawrence


a document from the National Peace and Justice Commission

The peace works of Secular Franciscans, including charity and advocacy for justice, are well known to all of us. 
Some are posted on the Peace and Justice Commission part of the NAFRA website

Below are some descriptions of peace actions taken by Franciscan friars and sisters.  We realize that there are many more peace actions than these in the Franciscan family.  These were posted on websites that we were able to locate.  Even within the groups mentioned, there are sure to be other peacemaking efforts of individuals that are not posted.  The links will take you to the websites from which the information was taken. 

The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Minnesota held a Franciscan Peace Camp from August 1 - 5, 2005 for 28 children ages 5 – 12.    The children learned about famous peacemakers such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Mahatmas Gandhi, and Dorothy Day.  They learned the three steps of STOP, THINK, and ACT, rather than hitting, back pushing or name calling.  “The way to break down violence is to learn peace at an early age…and to practice it at every age.”

The Franciscan Peace Center, a ministry of the Franciscan Province of the Scared Heart, proposes a spiritual and educational program of transformation and concrete involvement in peacemaking activities. In addition to prayer and contemplation, the Franciscan Peace Center believes that the use of the principles of active nonviolence can address the issues of violence in our society. This approach grows out of the thought and practice of  Gandhi and its further development and use by Martin Luther King, Jr., and others.  “We find that some of Francis' actions, though preceding the formulation of the principle of active nonviolence, nevertheless reflected it. This is evidenced in Francis' encounter with the Sultan and in his romanticized taming of the Wolf of Gubbio. Active nonviolence, it seems to us, is a true Franciscan ideal.” Click on Mission Statement and Philosophy

Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist
The Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee works to end violence and war, poverty and oppression and the destruction of our planet. Their efforts are often directed at the systems that cause oppression and destruction.  They have a network for legislative advocacy that is open to all persons.

The Franciscan Peace Watch was founded by the Dutch Franciscan friar Kees van Vliet in 1983 to demonstrate against the placement of American nuclear cruise missiles in the Netherlands.  At first it was a group of only Franciscan friars and sisters who were going to The Hague to participate in a peace-vigil and demonstrations.  In 1988 the decision was made not to place the cruise missiles in the Netherlands.  The group liked what they were doing and stayed together to keep holding vigils for peace in many other places. The Franciscan Peace Watch uses different methods to achieve their goals.  Often there are silent vigils that can be joined by anyone who wants to join.  Members of the Peace Watch can be found at conferences of arms manufacturers, at peace demonstrations, at anti-racism demonstrations and also at other visible places in town. Sometimes there are direct causes for a vigil to be held: the start of a violent conflict somewhere in the world, human rights that are abused, political actions that threaten peace etc.” English resume

Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY
A week dedicated to environmental issues was held with a march for Justice, Peace and the Environment. Trees were planted; there was a forum to study pollution of Rocky and San Francisco Rivers, as well as the preservation of the surrounding plains. In all these activities the Parish played an active role in collaboration with the mayor's office, local radio stations and the State University of Goiás.  Click on Justice and Peace.

Franciscan Sisters of Mary commit themselves to take corporate and public stands to effect systemic change for the common good based upon their deeply held belief that love of neighbor and justice cannot be separated.  The sisters commit themselves to support legislation to curtail the availability of weapons, oppose military aggression and the continued build-up of nuclear weapons, promote economic conversion, work for just and humane solutions in criminal justice and oppose the death penalty