Archbishop Charles Chaput invites all parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to observe a Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities on Friday, Sept. 9, the feast of St. Peter Claver.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) developed the prayer initiative to respond to “the pressing need for civil dialogue with regard to race relations, restorative justice, mental health, economic opportunity and gun violence,” according to a statement from the archdiocese.
In response to incidents of violence and racial tension across the United States this year, in July Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, president of the USCCB, called for all dioceses to take up the call to prayer.
He also appointed a special task force to support bishops in marking the Day of Prayer and to promote peace and healing in communities.
After racially related shootings of residents by police officers in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas, Archbishop Kurtz called for Catholics to look at ways the Catholic Church can help communities.
With prayer as a first step in that process, parish pastors and chaplains of institutions may implement some or all of the following pastoral suggestions on Sept. 9:
— Make use of the resources that are available on the USCCB website to address the issue of racism.
— Include an announcement in parish bulletins on Sunday, Sept. 4 about the Day of Prayer encouraging participation at Mass on Sept. 9, observing a voluntary fast and abstinence for peace, and uniting the intention for peace to personal and devotional prayers.
— On Friday, Sept. 9, the memorial of St. Peter Claver, direct the homily, with references to the biblical texts and the saint, to the need to pray for peace and include an intention in the Universal Prayer for peace.
— Invite all leaders of parish devotions (especially the rosary and adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament), school and religious education events, and parish meetings on that day to be mindful of the Day of Prayer.
— If convenient, with some previous explanation, ring the church bells as a reminder of the Day of Prayer for Peace and as a call to prayer.
St. Peter Claver was a Spanish Jesuit priest of the 17th century who ministered particularly to African slaves in the New World. He has become the patron saint of ministry to African Americans.