About this articleAn activity and prayer service for encouraging peace and becoming peacemakers.
Writing a Peace Creed (15 minutes)
1. Tell the young people that as much as we might want peace to become a reality in our world, being a peacemaker takes a lot of hard work. The first steps are to look at themselves and the ways they judge others, and to learn some skills for settling conflicts in their personal relationships and between others involved in disputes.
Two other things are necessary for our peacemaking efforts to be successful. The first is to believe that if we all try, we can bring peace closer to being a reality. The second is to recognize that we need God's help to give us the strength and courage to do the required work.
2. Tell the participants they are going to write a peace creed, a statement of what they believe about young people and peace, to be used as part of the closing prayer for this session. Explain that each person will receive a blank sheet of paper, and everyone should go off someplace in the room by themselves to write two personal belief statements. The first statement should begin "I believe young people are" and should tell something about what young people are like and how they feel about peace. The second statement should begin "I believe young people can" and should tell something about what young people can do to promote peace.
3. Distribute blank sheets of 8.5-by-11-inch paper and direct the participants to begin writing their creed. Allow about 3 minutes for the individuals to complete their statements.
4. After 3 minutes ask the young people to form four groups. Give each group a piece of newsprint and a marker, and ask the participants to consolidate their individual "I believe . . ." statements into group "I believe . . ." statements. They should combine first their individual statements about what young people are like and how they feel about peace, and then their individual statements about what young people can do to promote peace. Ask the groups to write their two consolidated statements on the piece of newsprint and to pick a member to read the statement aloud as part of the closing prayer.
5. When all the groups have completed their creed, instruct them to roll it up and save it for the closing prayer service.
Closing Prayer (20 minutes)
Before the session. Create a puzzle map of your community as follows: Glue a map of your local geographic area to a piece of poster board. Draw a circle on the map 18 inches in diameter, with your parish at the center. Cut out the circle. Draw puzzle pieces in the circle, with one piece for each young person in your group. Your puzzle should look something like this:
Cut out the puzzle pieces.
On a blank piece of newsprint, draw a blank circle 18 inches in diameter.
1. Direct the young people to form a circle. Then place the newsprint drawing of the blank circle in the center of the group and give everyone a puzzle piece and a pen or pencil. Ask the participants to take a few moments to center themselves and quietly think about what they have experienced during this tragedy.
2. After several quiet moments, invite the young people to share some of their thoughts. Guide the sharing process by going around the circle asking each person in turn to complete one of the following statements:
- One thing that I learned about myself is . . .
- One thing that surprised me is . . .
- I think peace is . . .
- I will try to . . .
3. After everyone has had an opportunity to share a reflection, continue by reading these words from Phil. 1:3-6:
I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you. . . . I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it.
4. Tell the group that God has planted the seeds of desire for peace in our hearts and that God will help us to accomplish the often difficult task of promoting peace. After all, Jesus promised that peacemakers will be called the children of God. We must always pray for ourselves and one another with joy and thankfulness because God will provide the courage and commitment we need to make our dream of peace possible.
5. Invite the representatives chosen earlier to take turns posting their small group's peace creed on a wall or bulletin board where everyone can see it and reading it aloud to the large group. When all the creeds have been read, comment that young people can do a lot to bring peace to the world. (Hopefully, the creeds the young people have written express this belief.) One person can make a difference, but much more can be accomplished when peacemakers come together and work toward the same goal. We need one another and must cooperate with one another. What one person cannot do alone, perhaps a number of people together can accomplish.
6. Ask each participant to write their name someplace on the front of their puzzle piece. On the back they should write something that they feel they can do alone or with others to bring peace to their community. Ask them to make this choice very specific and realistic.
7. When everyone has finished writing, tell the participants that they are now going to create a peace puzzle of their own small world. Ask the participants to fit their puzzle pieces into the blank circle, creating a map of the local area.
Instruct the young people to do this in silence and to maintain their silence through the closing prayer.
8. When the puzzle is complete, read the following prayer:
O God of peace,
sparkle our staleness with your hope,
invade the depth of our being with new courage,
defeat us in your love.
Grant that our lives may be:
surprising in forgiveness and healing,
abounding in joy and laughter,
daring in deeds and dreams of justice.
May we be do-ers, makers, pray-ers of peace
in memory of Christ Jesus. Amen.
("Peacemakers Prayer," as quoted in More Than Words, by Schaffran and Kozak, p. 92)
9. Suggest that the participants take home their puzzle piece as a reminder of one thing they can do to help bring peace to their community.
After the session. You might want to combine all the "I believe . . ." statements written by the four groups of young people into one peace creed. Begin the creed with a consolidation of the four "I believe young people are . . ." statements from the groups. Complete it with a consolidation of the four "I believe young people can . . ." statements. You might print this final creed and send it to the young people as a reminder of what they experienced and learned in the course. You might also publish it in the parish bulletin, enabling the larger faith community to become aware of what its young people are learning and what they believe.
Acknowledgments(This activity is from the Horizons book, Becoming a Peacemaker by Gail Daniels Hassett, published by Saint Mary's Press. Copyright © 1997 by Saint Mary's Press. Permission is granted for this activity to be used for classroom or campus ministry purposes. This activity may not be republished in any form without written permission from Saint Mary's Press. To order this books, contact Saint Mary's Press at 800-533-8095, or visit our online catalog at www.smp.org/catalog.cfm.)
Published September 11, 2001.