Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Albuquerque Faith Communtiies Join Pope Francis in Offering Prayers for an End to World Hunger

Hanh Ngyuen, Mark Garza, Larry Bernard, Kathy Freeze
On December 10, several faith communities in Albuquerque joined Pope Fancis and communities and individuals in 164 countries in offering a wave of prayers, reflections and a commitment to end hunger.

The global campaign, known as One Human Family, Food for All, was organized by Caritas Internationalis (which is the parent organization for Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services in the U.S.)

Locally, Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe offered a prayer at Noon, as did the Jesuit priests at Immaculate Conception Church in downtown Albuquerque and the Norbertine community at Santa Maria de la Vid in the South Valley. The Outreach Committee at All Saints Lutheran Church, the Mission Committee at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church and Judicatory representatives of the New Mexico Conference of Churches also participated in some form in the days leading to the global wave of prayer. Also, a number of individuals in Albuquerque and other parts of New Mexico pledged to take a few minutes at Noon to offer their own prayers.

Interfaith Prayers at Luther House
The prayers and reflections at our small gathering in at Luther House on the campus of the Univeristy of New Mexico were diverse but had a very common theme: everyone on Earth is connected, and thus no one should have to go without the basic necessities to live a full life. This is spelled out in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (which we also celebrated on this day).

We started with the prayer offered by Pope Francis, which was read by Kathy Freeze of Catholic Charities (see video below). We also read prayers from South Africa, Bread for the World, and Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger.

A couple of the folks assembled in the chapel at Luther House  brought experiences from overseas. Father Larry Bernard, a Franciscan, spoke about his work with Raramuri (Tarahumara) communities, and how sharing is an important part of daily life. Blood flow, he said, is an important concept in  Raramuri philosophy. Just as blood needs to reach every part for a body to thrive, food is essential for every member of the community.

Cathy Pfefferle, a member of Albuquerque Mennonite Church, spoke of a trip to Calcutta a few years back, and how her sister offered a granola bar to a beggar on the street. Rather than keep the piece of granola for himself, this person cut the bar in half and shared it with a friend who was just  a few feet away. This was a perfect illustration of how people who have less are are more willing to share.

Hanh Nguyen, a  long-time Albuquerque resident and a member of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, offered a prayer and blessing in her native Vietnamese language.

Lutheran Campus Pastor Anne Morawski and students Ranjavola Antenaina  and Aaron Stout were our gracious hosts. Rev. Rodney Saunders of the Wesley Foundation (United Methodist Campus Ministry); Mark Garza, Gospel Justice Peer Minister at Aquinas Newman Center Campus Ministry; and Sara Koplik, director of Hillel House, also participated in the service, as did Jennifer Murphy-Dye from the Ecumenical Institute of Ministry, Ellen Buelow from Holy Rosary Catholic Church, and Ron and Grace Bousek from Aquinas Newman Center.

We concluded with the words from the Weston Priory song That There May Be Bread.  Sara Koplik then offered a Jewish blessing.  And then we shared soup and bread.

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