I can’t tell you how many times, when people have stopped by the convent and we have them make a visit to Jesus in our chapel, they come out and say, “Oh, it’s so peaceful here!” Our convent is beautiful and the chapel is a wonderful haven from the “noise” of the world around us (even when we hear the neighbors mowing their yards). It’s a reminder to me that every human heart seeks peace and it’s important to cultivate such opportunities.
Yesterday, Fr. LaRue offered a Mass for Peace and Justice on the anniversary of 9/11. He reminded the children, and me, that if we desire peace in the world, it starts with my own choices and helping to build peace in my own interactions.
Next Monday, we will begin celebrating PeaceMakers Week in our school. This is our week-long initiative, coupled with ongoing teaching throughout the year, to help the children understand what it means to be a peace-maker and learn concrete ways of going about this. We do so by focusing on and teaching specific social/emotional skills each day of the week:
- M – Kindness/Empathy/Awareness
- Tu – Leadership/Responsibility/Resilience
- W – Friendship
- Th – Conflict Resolution
- F – Teamwork
Research has shown that the greatest factor in preventing aggressive behavior is building a sense of empathy (understanding the pain of others) in individuals (https://mcc.gse.harvard.edu/files/gse-mcc/files/empathy.pdf). By the same token, the most important factor in helping individuals who are targets of aggression is to build resiliency (being able to bounce back and take things in stride) (http://www.virtuebase.org/2016/05/14/why-teaching-resiliency-matters/). If we can empower our children to be empathetic and resilient, we are helping them socially and emotionally to be happier people – and to be peace-makers. Building friendships, navigating conflict resolution and working as a team are also key factors in this endeavor.
Some special events to look forward to include grades PreK-4 attending presentations on Monday from Kids on the Block, sponsored by Nebraska Elks Club (https://nebraskaelkskob.weebly.com/programs.html). This is a troupe of puppets that educate students on a variety of topics, including how to relate to children with autism, Down syndrome and other disabilities. Also on Monday, the 5th and 6th grade students will get to hear from parishioner and former teacher, Bob Deschaine, as he shares about his 20-year friendship with and advocacy for a man with special needs. On Thursday, the Junior High will have an opportunity to participate in a workshop by Mary Beth Rice on social leadership.
I encourage you to have your child(ren) share with you the various lessons and experiences of the week ahead. It promises to be a fun and grace-filled time! But also remember that our greatest peace is found in the quiet of time spent with Jesus in the Eucharist. When Fr. Kelleher recently spoke to our students about Eucharistic adoration, 107 of them committed to making a 10-15 minute visit to Jesus on a weekly basis. I hope that, with your help, they are able to keep that commitment. By doing so, they can experience what Jesus told us at the Last Supper, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” Jn.14: 27
God bless you and peace be with you!