Although Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades could not make it to the Catholic trivia night this year at Queen of Peace parish’s annual Peacefest, he was as enthusiastic to top off the weekend-long event with the celebration of the Mass and the parishioners were excited to have him.
Over the weekend, Queen of Peace parish in Mishawaka, celebrated its annual Peacefest. There were three days of festivities to attend and enjoy; from rummage sales to Wiffle ball to the always entertaining trivia night. The perfect end to a wonderful weekend could be nothing less than an outdoor Mass said by the Bishop and his concelebrants. The main message was not a hard one to guess, but it is an important one to understand.
“We are all responsible for promoting peace,” Bishop reminded a packed house, or in this case a packed tent, in his homily, “in our families and communities and in the world.”
Bishop Rhoades addressed the violence going on in our very country and in the whole world. As he reminds us, it is more important than ever to remember that we are all instruments of peace. Armed with our prayers and leading by example, we are called to be the change we all want and need to see.
Sometimes, however, the brave men and women of our military are armed with more than prayers alone. Bishop Rhoades touched on the importance of our troops; how they, too, seek peace even though that may seem paradoxical. “They are called to defend innocent lives and to defend our nation from acts of aggression,” he said. In that sense, it is a defense of what is good and just. It is an act of seeking peace in a way that seems exactly the opposite. But as he stated earlier, “Peace is not merely the absence of war.” Peace takes much more than that. Peace is much more than that. It is complex and difficult to achieve, but we are continuously called to work toward it.
The plight of refugees who were forced to flee their war-torn homes surfaced in the homily as well. Summoning the images of them to the forefront of our hearts and minds caused some uneasy shifting, especially as the volunteers for Peacefest started to fry up some delicious chicken close by. The lovely smell of a great meal wafting into the tent and causing stomachs to rumble in anticipation truly emphasized how blessed are those to be able to be there celebrating Mary, Queen of Peace, on a beautiful summer day.
While there is a lot of violence and absence of peace in the world today, there are actions we can take to change that. First, as Bishop stressed repeatedly, we can and must pray. The people who suffer, as a result of violence, the families that are torn apart, those who dare to defend our country, and especially those who have so much hatred in their hearts to commit violence, all need our prayers.
Second, we can all make our best efforts to lead by example. The parish picnic after Mass was an excellent place to start. After Mass concluded, parishioners worked together to transform the big tent from a church to a dining hall. Lines of tables filled up with families enjoying plates of some of the finest food ever blessed by Bishop Rhoades. At first, each group gave plenty of space to one another. But as time went on, and as seats filled up, it became increasingly difficult to tell one group apart from another. It was like they were one huge family eating lunch together. In fact, they all are one big family. After listening to the homily of Bishop Rhoades, the picnic was a truly beautiful event; a step towards peace for the parishioners of Queen of Peace.
With that, another Peacefest celebration comes to an end. A year will pass before the next one, and today it is not clear where the world will be by that time. Until then, Catholics everywhere, not just those at Queen of Peace, are called to pray and work for a more peaceful world for us all to live in. Violence may not end before the next Peacefest, but until it does, our search for peace will not end either.
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