Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Prayer Service for Peace and Racial Healing

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A major interfaith prayer service event, “Prayer for a Path to Peace and Racial Healing,” will be held on Tuesday, November 22, at 7 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

The service is open to people of all faiths and is the beginning of a major interfaith initiative designed to bring together a widely diverse community with a goal towards bringing a new level of dialogue and kinship of people of many faiths and ethnicities.

Featured speakers include Bishop Frank J. Caggiano; Rev. Cass Shaw, president/CEO of the Bridgeport Council of Churches; Rabbi James Prosnit, leader of Congregation B’nai Israel, a Reform temple in Bridgeport; and Pastor Anthony Bennett, lead pastor of Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport, CONECT co-chair and a local leader of Black Lives Matter.

The Sacred Heart University Choir will provide musical selections at the service, which will include interfaith prayer and a time for personal reflection.

Bishop Caggiano has assem- bled a committee made up of clergy, laity and interfaith leaders. They have not only planned this service; the committee is in the planning stages for an ongoing initiative to continue expanding the dialogue and discussion regarding racial healing.

Father Reginald D. Norman, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Wilton, and episcopal vicar of the Apostolate of African American Catholics, said that given the unrest in the world and the problem of violence at home, the service is meant to bring people of many different faiths and backgrounds together. “It is our hope that as we begin in prayer, we will work together in the weeks and months to come to be a beacon of hope and understanding for all people. Our world needs an open and honest dialogue regarding these issues. We are excited to begin this work.”

The incentive for this launch event is in response to the request of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) president, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, that all dioceses through – out the United States conduct a prayer service for peace and for solutions to unresolved racial and criminal justice issues that have led to the loss of life of civilians and police in the inner cities.

Archbishop Kurtz has written that at times of growing tension over criminal justice issues, “We urge all to stay centered in prayer and in the knowledge that all of us, black and white, civilian and police, are valued and beloved children of God. Our commitment in our Baptismal Covenant shows us the way forward—to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves and to strive for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being.”

“So many events of the past year have taught us that we can’t ignore issues regarding police vio – lence against the poor any more than we can sanction violence against police, who put their lives on the line to protect us,” said Father Norman. “It is not a Black problem but a problem for all of society, and we must all work on a just solution that builds respect between police and communities and respects the dignity of all involved. I am excited that we are coming together to open the dialogue and process of crafting solutions in our community.”

Father Norman said he believes the interfaith foundation of the evening will be a good forum to begin to “present the problems and open a venue for dialogue.” This is the launch of a broader initiative focused on crafting solutions that have a real impact on reducing tensions and building bridges between all elements of our community.

The interfaith team is working to identify ten sites around Fairfield County that will host listening sessions to discuss the issues and make recommendations on new ways to foster peace amongst all parties.

For more information, contact Patrick Turner: 203.416.1633 or pturner@diobpt.org