For most people, September 11 evokes images of hatred and destruction as nearly 3,000 people lost their lives to a terrorist attack. It seemed that day that evil had triumphed over good and the focus remains today on this great loss.
On this September 11, a small parish in Cleveland, Ohio will celebrate its 100th anniversary. On September 11, 1919, the bishop of Cleveland assigned a priest to establish a parish in a developing area of the city. That priest, Father James Cummins, had just returned from Europe where he served as an army chaplain during World War I. His only request of the bishop was that the parish not be a nationality parish but be open to all Catholics. He had spent the previous years agonizing over people of different nationalities killing each other and he wanted a church open to all. The parish was named Our Lady of Peace.
Father Cummins’ vision is as alive today as it was 100 years ago. It is a parish that welcomes people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Each month the Nigerians celebrate the Liturgy in Igbo, as do the members of the Syro-Malibar community. On special celebrations the parish enjoys the rituals of a variety of ethnic communities and each year special celebrations are held to honor Mary under the titles of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Africa, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Today’s readings encourage us to “seek what is above” and “to rejoice and be glad.” On September 11, Our Lady of Peace will rejoice and celebrate the diversity and inclusiveness around the eucharistic table—a dream 100 years ago which, thanks to the grace of God, continues today.
Today, let us commit ourselves to doing one act which advances inclusiveness in our own area of influence.
Let Us Pray:
Lord Jesus, your prayer for us was that we all be one. Shower us with the grace we need to truly reach out to others, especially those who are different, that they might better experience their own dignity as children of God. AMEN
Daily Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)