Bishop Kettler urges faithful to be ‘instruments of peace’

Categories: Around the Diocese

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Mary Mulbah and her 8-month-old daughter Henrietta, members of St. John Cantius Parish in St. Cloud, participated in the Mass for Peace at St. Mary’s Cathedral Dec. 4. Dianne Towalski / The Visitor

The Visitor

On a day when marchers blocked Interstate 35W in Minneapolis to protest the killing of two black men by police officers in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City, Bishop Donald Kettler urged worshipers at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud to be “instruments of peace” in a world often wracked by fear, anger and hopelessness.

“We come together tonight, not only to pray for peace in some of our communities, but also to ask God to form our hearts after the heart of Jesus Christ — hearts which care for others, forgive and serve as instruments of peace,” he said in his homily during a special Mass for Peace Dec. 4.

He was joined by several priests at the altar and about 200 people in the pews.

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Bishop Donald Kettler gives the homily during the Mass for Peace. Dianne Towalski / The Visitor

Bishop Kettler’s invitation to pray followed more than a week of unrest after a grand jury decided not to indict a white Ferguson police officer who killed an unarmed African-American teenager. More protests erupted this week when another grand jury did not indict a white New York City police officer involved in the death of an unarmed black man.

“When we hear about young people being shot and killed, and see the resulting unrest and anger in our communities, we ask, ‘Where is the peace God gifts us with?’ It doesn’t seem to rest in our hearts,” Bishop Kettler said.

The impact isn’t limited to just Ferguson and New York City, he added. Racism, mistrust of police, lack of respect for law and order, and poverty exist in many communities and “cloud the call to peace.”

“Memories of past hurts are hard to overcome or to forgive,” the bishop said. “We need to look into our own hearts to see if the seeds of prejudice, revenge, disrespect and hatred still live there, and strive to work on changing these.”

Prayer and God’s help are essential for such change, he said. “Only with God’s grace, in answer to our prayers, will we begin — all of us — to take these steps,” Bishop Kettler said. “It is God who changes hearts, but men and women who are to be instruments of his peace.”

Mary Mulbah, a member at St. John Cantius Parish in St. Cloud, said she came to the Mass to pray for a better future.

“I think at times like this its easy to get upset or hate one side or the other for whatever reason, but the only thing we can really do is to pray for peace,” she said.

Billy Critchley-Menor, a student at St. John’s University in Collegeville, said prayer can change hearts, and the church has a rich tradition in support of peace and social justice that flows from the celebration of the Eucharist.

“When we gather together for the celebration of Mass, we unite ourselves with everybody else who does it,” he said. “So, when we can see Jesus in the Eucharist, we can see Jesus in our brothers and sisters. It nourishes your soul. Here, when it’s a Mass for Peace, you recognize how many times the bishop says ‘peace,’ but that [happens] at every Mass. That’s what its all about, and it’s just been emphasized again tonight.”

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Billy Critchley-Menor, left, Christina Streifel and Bonnie Triplet, students at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, sing during the Mass for Peace.    Dianne Towalski / The Visitor