Archbishop Robert Rivas of Castries has reminded the faithful that building a culture of peace requires conversion of heart and a new way of thinking.
He said to think peace, live peace, speak peace, share peace and create communities and families of peace, individuals need to be peacemakers with “peace” the first word on their lips.
The Archbishop was addressing the hundreds of Saint Lucians, young and old of different denominations during 7 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception to commence the Day of Prayer, Fasting and March for Peace and Non-Violence, August 1.
Delivering the homily Archbishop Rivas said, “Today is Emancipation Day and we need to emancipate ourselves from every kind of slavery in which we find ourselves trapped whether it be pleasure, greed, individualism, drugs or violence…”
He said, “We are marching today because we want a better St Lucia. We want to be peacemakers; we want a non-violent society and we want to root out the evils that are destroying the fabric of our nation and the goodness in our people. We want peace. Blessed are the peacemakers!”
The event – the first of its kind–was hosted by the Archdiocese of Castries in collaboration with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, under the theme Blessed are the Peacemakers (Matt 5:9).
The March for Peace and Non-Violence began at 11 a.m. and included four stops for reflection, prayer and rest at the Marchand Boulevard, next to the Entrepot Secondary School, on the Chaussee Road and the Castries Waterfront.
It culminated at the Derek Walcott Square for a thanksgiving and introduced the Catholic Social Teaching programme.
Responding to questions via email, Judy Rene, Co-ordinator of the project said the aim of the event was to express the need for greater solidarity among Christians, build a culture of non-violence in Saint Lucia; highlight the importance of prayer and fasting for the security, welfare and good of the nation.
Other objectives were: to realise that the word of God calls Christians to be peacemakers (Matt 5:9); plant the seed of peace in the hearts of all Saint Lucians as a means of overcoming violence at every level of society; pray and fast for healing and reconciliation where there is hurt, hate, anger, brokenness and the need for forgiveness; and promote respect for life and human dignity.
In the homily Archbishop Rivas told the gathering “The whole of St Lucia, from the youngest child to our senior citizens will need to be educated for peace. Peace building begins in the heart. We need to learn how to settle differences amicably and reasonably.” He appealed for St Lucians to learn how to forgive, to accept forgiveness and to reconcile with each other. Archbishop Rivas advised them to revisit the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father, “how we pray it and how we understand it”.
He stressed the need to get rid of all weapons and build a kinder and gentler society. He urged the congregation to listen to the lyrics of Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’.