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Peace Center Reflections

[caption id="attachment_3301" align="alignright" width="200"]Blog by Sr. Suzanne Brauer, OP Blog by Sr. Suzanne Brauer, OP[/caption] "To build peace, to preach peace and to be peace" is the challenge that all of us have been given as Dominican Sisters and Associates of Peace. I have had the wonderful opportunity to realize this challenge by joining Sisters Ceal Warner and Pat Thomas in founding our Peace Center in New Orleans. In August 2016 the Peace Center will be two years old, so it is a good time to reflect. It is probably easier to hear peace being preached than to see it being built. In the Peace Center one can often hear, "That is a violent computer game. Turn it off." Or one might hear that we don’t call each other names or make fun of each other because this is the Peace Center. These are mostly instructions for the children who come for homework assistance or to have a chance to play games in their spare time or at Summer Camp. Are they becoming peace builders by coming here? One can also hear peace when our senior citizens gather for their monthly socials thanking God for the meal and the enjoyment of being together, joking with their long time neighbors. Building peace is harder to see, but I believe it happens as persons grow in their skills of job search and computer literacy. It also happens in our volunteers from St. Mary’s Dominican High School, Xavier University, our Associates and our tutors who help with homework. They experience the joy of sharing their gifts and talents. We make great efforts to build peace with the greater New Orleans community by participating in Ecumenical Peace Prayer Services, Prayer Peace Walks in various neighborhoods who have experienced violence and going to Second District Police and community meetings. This type of peace building is not measurable, but I do have a sense that our hearts are becoming more embracing of peace and supportive of each other. As we strive to build peace we are faced with the justice issues of racism, violence, poverty and gun control. Having a Peace Center in a neighborhood where all of these are active, I hope and pray that the Peace Center speaks to the neighbors of another way of living.  When people drop into the Center we often have conversations about these issues, but I must admit that we have little power to change them except by example. The last challenge is to "Be Peace." Here I have to get personal. I constantly ask myself what is going on inside of me that is contributing to my peace of soul and how do the people who encounter me perceive it. One thing the three of us do as a community is bring to Morning Prayer our neighbors and their needs by name. Then we can at least say we have done something; we prayed for them. Is the mission of the Peace Center being fulfilled? We have made a start, but there are just so many more needs to address. I do believe God is directing this and will continue to challenge us in the next steps we should take. In all activities we desire to foster the great gift of peace, which I know the world needs so badly right now.

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