This is a resume of the Dutch pages about the history and work of the
Dutch Franciscan Peace Watch.

Foundation of the Peace Watch

The Franciscan Peace Watch was founded by the Franciscan friar Kees van Vliet in 1983, shortly before the big demonstration against the placement of American nuclear cruise missiles in the Netherlands. In the beginning it was a group of only Franciscan friars and sisters, who were going to The Hague, to participate in a peace-vigil and in the big demonstration on 29 October. After the demonstration those people kept holding vigils against the placement of nuclear arms. Soon all kinds of people from all parts of the Netherlands started to join the first group of Franciscan friars and sisters. On Ash Wednesday 1984, the Peace Watch started to keep vigils at the military-base in Woensdrecht. Woensdrecht was the place where the nuclear cruise missiles were planned to be placed. The Peace Watch wanted to hold vigils at the gate of the base until Easter. But once they started, they couldn’t stop. When the final decision of the placement of the weapons was postponed, the Peace Watch got hold of a steady spot in Woensdrecht. First they housed in a shed, later in a caravan and finally in a family home. The ratification of the INF treaty meant, that these cruise missile should not be placed . Therefore on Ascension day 1988, there came an end of four years of vigils in Woensdrecht. When that period in Woensdrecht ended, the ‘members’ of the Peace Watch stayed together to keep holding vigils for peace in many other places

Why Franciscan?

The Franciscan Peace Watch started asf a group of Franciscan friars and sisters in 1983. Shortly after the start of group also other people joined this group. All this people had a common affinity. All of them felt themselves connected with St. Francis (and St. Clare) of Assisi. Especially St. Francis’love for peace and simplicity appealed to them.
The Franciscan Peace Watch is now officially part of the Dutch Franciscan Movement. It represents the Franciscan Movement in peace matters.

Saint Francis of Assisi

St. Francis lived from 1182 until 1226 in the little town Assisi in the county of Umbria in Italy. As a son of a rich merchant he grew up in great wealth, but finally he wasn’t happy with his way of life. After his encounter with a leper, he took to heart the well-being of lepers and other rejected people. He chose the side of the ‘minores’. Finally he renunciated all his possessions. From that moment on he lived in ‘happy’ poverty and preached simplicity and love for every human being and the entire Creation of God. From this attitude on his love for peace arose: If you love all human being as brothers and sisters, it becomes impossible to inflict violence on them. He also believed that having possessions and defending it is the prime cause of conflicts and an obstruction for the love for God and other human beings. He often took active part in solving conflicts between people of his time. During his life, and also after his death until this day, many people also beyond the borders of the catholic church are inspired by St.Francis and his ideals. In this way a Franciscan Movement was started.

Why now?

When you follow the media in the world these days, one can notice, that more and more reports are going about violence and injustice. These kind of things occur in ‘big’ everywhere in the world, but also in ‘small’ in our own surroundings. We as members of the Peace Watch believe that it is the duty of every human being to do whatever is in his/her possibility to strive for peace, justice and wholeness of Creation. In this way we try to find solutions for conflicts that occur in these days. But above all we try to work on a change of  attitude in society to prevent these kinds of conflicts: To work on real brother- and sisterhood between all people. This is very important in our time. For this we hold vigils in many places in the Netherlands and abroad.

Activities of the Franciscan Peace Watch

The Peace Watch tries to work on non-violent solutions of conflicts, to work on reduction and finally abolishing the production and traffic of arms in the world. Also the Peace Watch works on a change of attitude of society which helps peace to grow. We use different methods to try to achieve our goals. The most important method we use are the vigils which can be joined by everyone who wants to. Often these vigils are ‘silent’ vigils. 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 action that threaten peace etc.

The Peace Watch tries to ask attention for such developments through the use of vigils, no matter if it is world news or stays at the background. News about our work can be found under AGENDA.

Besides this all, members of the Peacewatch do educational work and we as a group participate in different national counsels in the justice- and peace movement.

Cooperation

The Peace Watch cooperates with many other organisations in behalf of peace. We are part of several national counsels, like the ‘Platform Vredescultuur’ (Platform a Culture of Peace), ‘Landelijk Beraad Vredesorganisaties (National Counsel of Peace Organisations)’, ‘Campagne tegen de Wapenhandel’ (Campaign against the arms trade), ‘Platform tegen de Nieuwe Oorlog’ (Platform against the New War) and ‘Keer het Tij’ (Social Forum). These counsels organise many national meetings and actions.
Besides this the Peace Watch co-operates also with organisations and groups separate. Every year, in January, we have a vigil in co-operation with a Baptist peace group. And with many different religious groups we organise vigils at the internment camp for ‘undesirable foreigners’ in Amsterdam.

From some of these organisations you can find internet links under ‘Links’ in the main website menu.

Members

The members of the Peace Watch are people with all kinds of different background (religious and social). Also they are from different ages. But they all feel a connection with St. Francis (and St. Clare) of Assisi and the Franciscan ideas. In our group are Catholics, Protestants, a Moslem and people who are not connected to a church. Besides these members the Peace Watch has also supporters. These people can be called upon to participate in the vigils or demonstrations. People can also ask to be placed on the so called ‘pilot flame list’ of the Peace Watch. If an important event occurs, the people from this list get an email (or telephone call) at home in which they are asked to participate in a vigil.

There are also people who can’t attend the vigils, but do want to participate. They can burn a candle behind the window at the time of the vigils and be connected with the vigil in ‘spirit’. In this way they can join from out of their own homes.

The Peace Watch can still use new members. People who are interested can ask for information at the secretariat (The address you can find at the beginning page of this site). It is possible to attend a vigil, an organizing meeting or a preparation meeting of a vigil.

We wish you peace and all good.
The Franciscan Peace Watch.


  the peace flag in front of

international