Cathedral High School’s senior campus ministers greeted families, students, faculty, staff and community members the evening of Sept. 20 in front of the school’s main entrance in St. Cloud, as they gathered to pray together for the International Day of Peace.
The candlelight service, which included Scripture, petitions, reflection and prayer, opened and closed with a moving rendition of the song “Hallelujah,” with the crowd joining in at various times. This is the second year campus ministry staff and students planned a prayer service like this.
“We want our students to understand and believe in the power of prayer, and there isn’t anything more important right now than the need for peace,” said Cathedral Principal Lynn Grewing. “We also want them to be active workers for peace; often the catalyst for working for peace comes out of a spiritual experience.”
Cathedral senior Jake Van Halbeck said he became a campus minister to dedicate himself to Christ and to be able to pray in moments like this. At the prayer service, Van Halbeck welcomed attendees and handed out small candles to the crowd.
“We are just trying to come together — not only as a Cathedral community but also with the outside community — to come together as one and pray, especially in these crucial moments like the mall stabbing and for the Wetterling family,” he said. “These are important things throughout our community and not only here but others like them throughout the world.”
Sarah Faust, also a senior and campus minister, said she thinks events like this bring people together.
“It’s a way for everyone with a common goal of world peace to get together and pray,” she said. “It brings attention to everything that is going on in the world and provides a time to settle down, reflect on it and pray.”
After a Scripture reading from the Gospel of Matthew, Father Ben Kociemba, chaplain of Cathedral, provided words of unity, hope and inspiration.
“We come here tonight to unite our minds and hearts to pray for peace,” he said. “We know that in too many places, violence continues to victimize people, forcing people to leave their homes and countries, violence continues to bring fear into communities and continues to break up families and close neighborhoods. We know that violence is real. Especially with the events this past weekend, it has hit home for us.”
He reminded those gathered that love is always stronger than hate.
“We have a savior Jesus Christ who destroyed the power of darkness and sin,” he said. “He himself knows what it is like to be a victim of violence and unites with them in the power of his resurrection. No matter what the situation or how desperate it might become, because of Jesus, we have hope that the power of God, the power of love, is at work in our world and will be triumphant.”