Saint Michael’s College Combats Hate with Kindness

The Martin Luther King Jr. Society of Saint Michael’s College in Vermont hosted speaker Arno Michaelis, author of My Life After Hate. Michaelis was brought to campus to share his story and educate the campus on hate and how to combat it. Michaelis is a former member of a white power skinhead group and front man for the hate band Centurion. Michaelis re-called the chain of events that led him to this lifestyle, including his childhood and desire to be hated, that drew him to become a neo-Nazi. Growing up with an alcoholic father, living in a miserable home environment, pushing everyone that loved him away, becoming a school bully, street fighting, vandalism and alcohol, were all significant factors that lead him to white supremacy. According to Michaelis, hate became his perpetual state of mind and he received this immense high when people hated him.

The turning point for Michaelis was an encounter with one of his coworkers. Michaelis recalls; “I was this miserable, pathetic, hungover fool, and I’m starving… and one of the black guys at work was sitting down, and he has his lunch… and he’s got a sandwich that he’s cut in half, and he sees me there in the corner and he’s like ‘hey, skinhead, you want half this sandwich?” Michaelis recalls how it was the kindness of those who forced him to face his own hypocrisy that led to him to be freed from hate. Michaelis now works with “the organization Serve 2 Unite, which is dedicated to helping young people create inclusive, safe, and peaceful communities. He travels across the country sharing his story in an effort to combat the kind of hate he once spread.”

To read more about Arno Michaelis’s speech, please view Saint Michael’s College news.

The College of St. Scholastica Hosts Peace & Justice Series

The College of St. Scholastica is in the midst of their annual Peace & Justice Series. From September 2017 to March 2018, St. Scholastica will be hosting a variety of lectures focusing on sustainable living. The first lecture was given by Andrew Revkin, current reporter at ProPublica and former reporter at The New York Times. His lecture was titled “Ending Life as We Knew It” and spoke about the “destruction of the Amazon rain forest, sustainable development, and climate change, particularly as it affects the North Pole environment.” The rest of this year’s Alworth Center for Peace and Justice Lecture Series lineup is:

Oct. 24-“The Truth About Nuclear Energy” with Gwyneth Cravens

Nov. 9-“Economic Growth Still Matters” with Bob Hoffman

Feb. 8-“Shifting to Solar and Wind Power” with Janet Larsen

Mar. 20-“Enviromental Stewardship as a Personal Calling” with Andrew Hoffman

For more information about St. Scholastica’s Peace & Justice Series, click here.

Catholic Colleges and Universities Honor St. Francis of Assisi with a Week Long Celebration

The Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi was celebrated on October 4th. Several Catholic colleges and universities commemorated the life of this humble saint with a week-long celebration. St. Francis was a man characterized by his conversion from a wealthy man to humble servant to the poor and preacher of the Gospel. St. Francis’ mission of embracing marginalized people is one that Catholic colleges and universities strive to embody through their work of service. Through celebrating the life of St. Francis, colleges and universities reaffirmed their desire to serve others in their community, to care for the environment, and to fight for social justice related issues.

St. Francis College, Hilbert College, and Viterbo University are among some of the schools that dedicated a week to St. Francis. The week consisted of different activities and a speaker series that relate to the mission of St. Francis. At St. Francis College they kicked off with a party and throughout the week hosted a series of talks relating to Franciscan spirituality and including “A Conversation on Hospitality” with St. Francis’s President, Miguel Martinez-Saenz. At Hilbert College there was a keynote address given by Fr. David Couturier titled “Franciscan Values & Millennials: Envisioning a Healthy World Economy.” The purpose of the address was to “advance a dialogue on how St. Francis of Assisi’s understandings of a social or fraternal economy can effectively inform many of the economic challenges that Millennials face today and in the future.” The week also featured service opportunities of feeding those in need as well as reflections and a mass to guide the week. Viterbo College spent the week hosting a series of liturgies, prayer services, and volunteer opportunities. One of these included a blessing of the animals, which reminded everyone how St. Francis had such a deep love for animals that he would even preach to them.

Spend a few minutes reflecting on the life of St. Francis of Assisi and asking God to give you are heart open to serve by praying the Peace Prayer of St. Francis!

University of San Diego Uses Interactive Art to Promote Peace & Justice

In a world that is constantly moving and chaotic it is hard for one to simply be still and imagine a peaceful, positive world. The University of San Diego recognized that struggle and wanted to find a way for members of the university to engage with peace in a new way. The Joan B. Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice had a desire to “celebrate peace and justice and to invite everyone, students and the community, to jump in and interact with the art.” That led to the Kroc School commissioning interactive mural artist, Kelsey Montague, to create a piece that is able to transport the viewer into a new frame of mind.

Patricia Marquez, the dean of the Kroc School of Peace Studies said that “the current state of the world poses a collective challenge and an obligation to intensify our thinking and inspire action to shape a better world. This piece is part of our vision to prepare students. To transform out societies, learning needs to engage all senses and should happen inside and outside of the classroom. The wall is meant to enhance the learning experience. The hope is that the students will graduate and leave inspired to lead effective change making endeavors across a variety of sectors and organization types.”

You can find more of Montague’s interactive pieces on her Instagram @KelseyMontagueArt or search the hashtag that accompanies all her pieces, #whatliftsyou. The full article can be found here. Photo courtesy of Renata Berto.

Peace and Justice in ACCU’s Summer Newsletter

ACCU recently released the summer edition of Update, our quarterly newsletter. Read Update in full here. Peace and Justice highlights include:

  • ACCU President’s Letter: Celebrating 50 years of Populorum Progressio
  • Rivier Students Participate in Day of Service: In April, Rivier University held its fifth annual First-Year Student Day of Service, contributing hundreds of service hours to Greater Nashua, New Hampshire non-profit organizations.
  • Mount Marty Students Volunteer at Rosebud Indian Reservation: Eighteen students from Mount Marty College recently participated in an annual service opportunity that sends nursing students and non-nursing majors to the Rosebud Indian Reservation to work with Tree of Life Ministry in Mission, South Dakota.
  • Newman Students Focus Art on Syrian Conflict: The atrium in Newman University’s Dugan Library was home to a student-created art exhibit in April, with art designed to depict the conflict in Syria.
  • Emmanuel Students Raise Funds for Children’s Hospital: The sixth annual Emmanuel College Dance Marathon for Boston Children’s Hospital set a new fundraising record this year.
  • Benedictine Holds Social Justice Teach-In: This spring Benedictine University held an all-day “Teach-In on Social Justice and Race” to promote greater understanding of people and issues affecting local communities.
  • Aquinas Awarded Early Childhood Ed. Grant: Aquinas College in Michigan has been awarded a $900,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to address the shortage of qualified teachers of color available to lead local early childhood education classrooms.

To subscribe to Update, please email Paula Moore.

Loras College to Start Peace Institute for High Schoolers

In response to the growing conflict in our nation and world, Loras College will launch a Peace Institute that will provide emerging area leaders with the opportunity to gain unique skills they can use to promote peace in their personal and professional lives. To respond to the global reality of difference and division, Loras College is establishing the Peace Institute to create a new approach to forming future leaders in the way of peace. For three days, high-school aged youth from a variety of faith backgrounds will participate in an overnight camp and will engage in programming on peace with self, others and the world. They will be taught skills like non-violent communication, inter-religious literacy, and relationship building by professors and area practitioners.

The Loras College Peace Institute will take place August 4-6, 2017.  Applications will be accepted through May 15.  To learn more, visit the Peace Institute’s website.


Celebrating the Fiftieth World Day of Peace

On the Fiftieth World Day of Peace, January 1, 2017, Pope Francis’ message to the world promotes nonviolence as a style of politics for peace. In his message, he spoke of nonviolence as being a difficult response, but the only appropriate one to violent conflicts.

He issued a call for nonviolence to all people saying, “It is a challenge to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to win at any cost. To do so requires ‘the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process’. To act in this way means to choose solidarity as a way of making history and building friendship in society. Active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and more fruitful than conflict. Everything in the world is inter-connected. Certainly differences can cause frictions. But let us face them constructively and non-violently, so that ‘tensions and oppositions can achieve a diversified and life-giving unity,’ preserving ‘what is valid and useful on both sides’.”

Francis ended with a reminder that “Everyone can be an artisan of peace.” On this World Day of Peace, let us consider how to be creators of peace in our communities.