CEAP-NAC initiates Threefold Path to Peace

By Natalie Hazel Quimlat As a response to the crisis in Marawi which began in late May of this year, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines - National Advocacy Commission (CEAP-NAC) organized "a non-violence means to achieving peace". A simultaneous observance of "Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace: 14 Days of Prayer and Silence, Peace Conversations and Acts of Charity, A Threefold Path to Peace" began last July 17 and will end on July 31 with a eucharistic celebration offered for "peace and welfare of [those] in Marawi". United in Prayer, Working for Life and Peace In his letter to CEAP member-schools, NAC Chairperson and Naga Parochial School Director Fr. Rex Andrew Alarcon said, "We are certainly disturbed by the war in Marawi, the proposals to revive Death Penalty and other social concerns. Our Christian Faith calls us not simply to be spectators, but to be actors and protagonists of the present moment." These 14 days of prayer is an initiative and a response to the question: "What are we doing as Catholic Schools and as an organization," Alarcon added. "These are not immediate solutions, but they yield more lasting results," he said.

Threefold Path to Peace The said project consists of prayer and silence, education and action. "For 14 consecutive days, the Prayer of St. Francis: "Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace" will be prayed by the school community during morning rituals, inside the classroom and other moments of prayer." A brief period of silence will be observed prior to this, "to emphasize purposive and intentional prayer". According to the initiative, "This also aims to instruct the young of the value of silence and reflection." Over the course of the 14 days, "Peace Talks and Conversations regarding Mindanao and the Muslim perspective" are to be held in school. These involve discussions regarding the crisis in Marawi and social issues within the country. "These talks must lead to the conviction that Peace is everybody's mission." In addition, the initiative states that "advocacy for life should be promoted, in the wake of the proposals of the revival of the Death Penalty". Ultimately, concrete acts of peace are highly encouraged in the school community. Some examples of these are "sharing the Prayer for Peace in social media, a Collection for Marawi and observance of the corporal works of mercy". At the end of these 14 days, CEAP-NAC hopes for "a heightened awareness of the school community of the necessity and urgency of peace, an increased knowledge and understanding of the necessity of peace for authentic progress, and an increased participation in the advocacy of life and building a civilization of life and love." Missionary disciples in the Year of Communities The initiative also exhorts that "children learn what they live". Hence, the Prayer of St. Francis has been chosen because it promotes the values of the Gospel and "the path of virtue, i.e., to overcome a bad habit, one must practice a good habit." The prayer also "takes on the standard of Jesus". Thus, "by continuously dwelling on the virtues and Gospel values, one can be transformed". In the "Year of Communities", schools, through the effort of CEAP-NAC, work as a community in responding to the call of Pope Francis to "read the signs of the times". Outside the confines of school, students are encouraged to share the Prayer of St. Francis by making bookmarks and prayer leaflets or through social media. During non-school days, students "are asked to pray [the Prayer] with their families or communities". The initiative also calls for "more input on peace-building, with the goal of instilling in individuals and communities, the spirit of peace". Other concrete actions for peace-building include "networking with other communities and institutions to promote the Prayer for Peace and to make concrete actions to combat any kind of addiction such as alcohol or drugs through seminars, visits to prisons, and sharing goods". "Advocacy in CEAP proceeds from our schools' commitment to evangelization," exhorts CEAP President Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J. "Advocacy in season and out of season is integral to the school that brings the light of the Gospel to our world."