Sunday Message by Guest Speaker Fr. John Dear —
Rev. John Dear is a long-time activist, priest, author and lecturer. He served for years as the director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the largest interfaith peace organization in the U.S.
John has traveled the war zones of the world, been arrested some 80 times for peace, led Nobel Peace prize winners to Iraq, recently visited Afghanistan, and given thousands of lectures on peace across the U.S. He recently helped draft Pope Francis’ Jan. 1, 2017 World Day of Peace message on nonviolence.
He is a co-founder of Campaign Nonviolence and the Nonviolent Cities Project. He has authored 35 books, including: The Beatitudes of Peace and The Nonviolent Life. He has been nominated many times for the Nobel Peace Prize, including by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Message from Rev. Pat Bessey
Wow – what a weekend with Fr. John Dear! I want to give a huge shout-out to Steph Plourde, who managed all the pieces to bring forth a successful weekend and to those who worked closely with her: Jan Strout, Christine Wolf, Maria Lundy, Pat Bartke and Jack Seery.
There is a saying you might have heard and it is the 5 Ps of Success: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. If you were at any of the events this weekend, you could clearly see the 5 Ps in action.
On Saturday at Saint Joseph’s College, we hosted 100+ folks who came to hear Fr. John. Having heard from many, they were not disappointed. Fr. John opened with this story about Martin Luther King Jr… Standing before the jammed crowd at the Mason Temple in Memphis the night before his death, King linked his life wisdom with a pithy and resounding appraisal of our global predicament: “The choice before us is no longer violence or nonviolence,” he said. “It’s nonviolence or non-existence.” This was the theme throughout the weekend, and he was ever encouraging us to be the people who reject non-existence as an option.
He invited us to ask ourselves a series of very provocative questions, including:
- How is my life a journey out of the culture of nonviolence?
- How do I fulfill my vocation as a peacemaker?
- How am I violent? How have I supported the culture of violence?
- Where does nonviolence challenge me most?
Fr. John shared many of his own personal stories and how he became a follower of the nonviolent Jesus. On Saturday the theme for the day was from his book The Nonviolent Life and it was delivered in three sessions. Session 1 was on being nonviolent to self; Session 2 addressed nonviolence to others; and Session 3 was about getting involved in a grassroots movement or starting one.
On Sunday Fr. John took us through the Beatitudes in his afternoon workshop. Again, he stressed that Jesus was the first nonviolent person and teacher and invited us to study the Beatitudes, if we study nothing else. It is quite well known that for 45 years, twice a day, Gandhi spent two hours studying The Sermon on the Mount and living the Beatitudes to the best of his ability.
Next Sunday, March 25 at Unity of Greater Portland, we are hosting an opportunity for those who attended one or both days of Fr. John’s workshops to come together and share our thoughts and ideas on how to move forward with trainings and activities that promote nonviolence. It will begin at 3:30 p.m. and end at 5 p.m., and refreshments will be provided. Please let us know if you are planning to attend so we can plan accordingly.
Next Sunday is Palm Sunday and we will be taking the journey into Jerusalem with Jesus. You will have an opportunity to participate in a Spiritual Baptism and to Walk the Palms at the 10 a.m. service.
You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey
We are thrilled to share the videos of Saturday’s workshop, courtesy of filmmaker Regis Tramblay. We are so grateful for his service.