200,000 children at Catholic schools in London, Essex, Hertfordshire and Kent are preparing for 100 Days of Peace, which will coincide with the 2012 London Olympics.
The 100 Days of Peace call was made at Westminster Cathedral on Friday 7 October 2011 at a Mass attended by children from the 485 Catholic schools in the Catholic dioceses of Westminster, Southwark and Brentwood.
100 Days of Peace is based on the Sacred Truce of the ancient Greek Olympics, which enabled competitors to reach Olympia without being attacked as they passed through warring city states. It will run from Friday 8 June 2012 (50 days before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games) to Sunday 28 October 2012 (50 days after the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games).
You can see photos of the Mass on Flickr and can follow 100 Days of Peace on Facebook
Attending the Mass with his parents Barry and Margaret was 12 year old George Mizen, brother of Jimmy Mizen, who was murdered in London in 2008. He said: “I think it is important for people to try and become friends with each other and I hope the 100 Days of Peace will do that. I also hope that the 2012 Olympics will be remembered for peace as well as sport”.
One of the schools attending was Our Lady’s Convent High School in Hackney, an area affected by the August riots. Children at the school are already working to reclaim neighbourhoods from crime by working with local shopkeepers to offer their premises as CitySafe Havens, places of safety for those needing help.
The Mass was celebrated by The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster with Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark and Mgr George Stokes of Brentwood. You can listen to the Archbishop of Westminster's homily by clicking on the green audio button.
The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster said:
“I am immensely proud of the character and leadership of so many young people in our schools as they work for peace and safety on our streets. This is a story which deserves to be widely known as it will give hope and encouragement to many.”
“The riots that occurred in London and elsewhere in England during the summer may tempt some into holding that within young people’s hearts there is nothing but a store of violence just waiting to be unleashed, given the chance.Certainly the riots did represent the realisation ofa destructive tendency within the human heart,
present there as a consequence of original sin.”
“However, you and I know that this is not the whole story. Despite the reality of the violent events last summer, they do not reflect the true nature of any human being, including those in their youth. We witness and applaud the great passion of so many young people for justice, their immense desire for peace. We see and celebrate their generous contribution in varied ways to the alleviation of poverty, their reaching out to those others have cast to the edges.”
“Please join me in prayer during these 100 Days of Peace, practise the virtues and encourage your pupils and students to do so. Then, by God’s grace, a legacy more precious than gold will prevail for London, for our country and, indeed, for our world.”
A legacy of peace
By committing to 100 Days of Peace, and working on projects aimed to bring peace to local communities and to reach out to areas at home and abroad troubled by knife crime, violence or war, schools will honour the ancient Olympian aim of ‘Peace through Sport’. The aim is for the Olympics and Paralympics to leave a legacy of peace in their community in the spirit of the Olympic Truce.
Training in the virtues
At the Westminster Cathedral Mass schoolchildren were asked prepare for 100 Days for Peace through a training schedule like that of athletes preparing for competition. This will involve learning about and participating in the virtues of Christian discipleship, which will help everyone to receive and promote peace.
The virtues are
• Prudence which allows us to judge correctly what is right and wrong in any given situation.
• Fortitude which enables us to overcome fear and to remain steady in our will in the face of obstacles. It is commonly called ‘courage’.
• Temperance which attempts to keeps us from excess in our bodily desires. It requires the balancing of these legitimate goods against our inordinate desire for them.
• Justice which is the permanent determination to give everyone her or his rightful dues.
At the end of the Mass a special peace resource booklet, 'Release Peace' was distributed. You can download a copy at the bottom of this webpage.
The Mass was held on the last full day before the Feast of Blessed John Henry Newman, and concluded the Year of Catholic Education, which was launched by Pope Benedict XVI during his State Visit to the United Kingdom in September 2011.