Local News Archive
Print Issue: May 4, 2000
Student Peacemakers Promote Tolerance
By Erika Anderson
ATLANTAAt a Mass held at the Cathedral of Christ the King April 11, select students from Catholic schools in the archdiocese celebrated tolerance and prayed for an end to violence.
Msgr. Terry Young, then Secretary for Education, celebrated the Mass, which carried out the theme, One Body Through Christ, One World Through Love. Students who were selected by their peers and teachers as peacemakers attended the Mass and a lunch afterward at the Hyland Center.
Students from St. Pius X High School, Atlanta, carried banners printed with themes of tolerance, peace, justice and love. The Christ the King Childrens Choir then led the congregation in singing Blest Are They to begin the Mass.
Student representatives from Immaculate Heart of Mary School, Atlanta, and St. Anthony School, Atlanta, read the first and second readings, respectively.
In his homily, Msgr. Young encouraged the students to reject hatred.
Words of violence ultimately become acts of violence, he said. But God says that goodness will prevail.
Msgr. Young told the students that he did not realize the tendencies that America has toward violence until he traveled to Europe.
Other countries dont have the propensity toward violence that we do, he said.
Though they may not be able to change everyone, the students have the potential to at least start with themselves, Msgr. Young said.
You may not be able to change all of society, but you do have the ability to change yourself, he said. You can be an agent of peace, a witness of peace, a person who will not resort to violence.
He told the students to envision a world without war, without killing, without violence and without intolerance, and told them anything was possible with God.
You already have the power of the love of God dwelling within you, he said. Dreams become reality only if we have the faith and courage to put them into action and all of us have that potential if we love God.
Students from several schools read the general intercessions. Then students from St. John the Evangelist in Hapeville and St. Thomas More in Decatur led an offertory procession, carrying white doves made by the art department at St. Jude the Apostle in Atlanta. Students from St. Marys in Rome and Queen of Angels in Roswell carried the bread and wine.
Before the final song, Let There Be Peace On Earth, Peggy Warner, principal of CKS, gave the students Websters definition of tolerance, as well as a more personal connotation.
Tolerance is our capacity to withstand pain or hardship, she said. Each of you out there encounters some form of pain or hardship when someone talks about you behind your back or when a friend betrays your trust, perhaps by sharing confidences with others. These things hurt, but the tolerant person learns from it and does not retaliate or get even.
Warner praised the students who exemplify peace and nonviolence in their schools.
By being persons of tolerance, you bring peace to our everyday lives, she said. You create order from confusion and most important of all, you become a messenger of God, keeping the faith alive and well in your everyday lives. You are to be congratulated and we are proud of you.
Following the Mass, students gathered at the Hyland Center for a lunch. A mix of various plaids united to form a wash of blues, greens and reds as students greeted friends from other schools and ate together.
Alyson Hoskinson is a sixth-grader at Our Lady of the Assumption School in Atlanta and a member of the schools Peace Patrol, a group of students that monitors the playground during recess and encourages students to work out their differences. She said that serving on the Peace Patrol has helped her own confidence level.
When people think you can help, it really raises your self-esteem, she said.
For many students, being known as a peacemaker is more than just an honor, its a responsibility.
Bernard Michél, a seventh-grade student at Sts. Peter and Paul School in Decatur, does not believe he is too young to make a difference in the world.
I can do anything I want, he said. Its how God wants it to be. I like helping people out and I like working hard for other people. Its just wrong to be mean and not to lend a helping hand.
HOMILIST -- During
the April 11 Mass for advocates of peace and nonviolence, Msgr. Terry Young,
Secretary for Education, points out in his homily that an open hand is a sign
of peace for those who love God.
OFFERING IT UP --
Laura Butler, center, an eighth-grader at St. John Neumann School, Lilburn,
joins the hands of other students during the Lords Prayer
STATEMENT OF HOPE
-- A banner made by Christ the King School students drapes the front of the
Cathedral altar bearing the theme of the special liturgy.