Thirty-Eight Minutes of Grace
“Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world give do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” –John 14:27
On Saturday morning, January 13, 2018, our confirmation students gathered here at the Newman Center for their confirmation retreat. It started off like any other morning with breakfast before getting the day started. As we began the blaring noise of the emergency alert from our phones captured our attention. A missile threat! As each one of us looked at our phones, there was a noticeable moment of confusion. What does this mean? What do we do? Is this even real? How do we know? Is there a way to verify?
Naturally, we immediately turned to sources of communication: radio, television, internet, and social media. There was no indication of how real the threat was aside from the phone notification. We called campus security and then 911—they did not have any definitive answers for us either. Without a clear sense of what was happening nor having a clear confirmation of a false alarm from a source of authority, it was very evident that our first priority was the care, comfort, and safety of our community’s children.
The first minutes left us paralyzed by the inundation of uncertainty and anxiety. In experiencing a whole range of emotions, the students turned to the adults seeking answers which we could not offer them. We asked them to call their parents to inform them of the situation. With nowhere to go—the university buildings are locked on the weekend—and no time to waste, we turned to the only thing we were certain of—our faith.
We were gathering for prayer in the Student Lounge where our retreat was taking place, but then we quietly migrated in almost a processional pace toward the tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament resides. There we stood around, took a few deep breaths, centered ourselves, and surrendered everything to the One who was in control, God. We prayed, we embraced, and we waited together.
Considering the circumstances, our confirmation students remained calm and though young, they exhibited great maturity. Perhaps, it is even an indication of their preparedness to receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude/courage, knowledge, reverence, and awe/wonder) which are bestowed upon us in the Sacrament of Confirmation. They were reminded that their emotions were a natural response and they are expressions of the love that we have for ourselves, family, and friends, a love that does not originate from ourselves, but from our Creator. Our youth have exhibited for us this weekend that in all moments of life, taking shape in different forms such as fear, sadness, happiness, triumph, despair, hope, etc., our faith provides the opportunity and calls us to turn to Christ so that we might have someone to share it with us and not travel this journey alone. At the end of this profound moment together, parents started to arrive to be reunited with their children.
I would like to extend my deep gratitude to our Director of Religious Education, Anna Viggiano, and our confirmation catechist, Maile Lam, for their tender care, faithful presence, and utmost professionalism this morning. We are very fortunate to have them, and all our catechists, caring for the spiritual development and education of our youth.
The thirty-eight minutes this morning, though frightening, were also a reminder of the Grace that exists in moments such as these. Even when we may be afraid we know that Christ is present with us. How can we experience Grace in our own lives? We need only to look to our children for such models of faith.
50th World Day of Peace
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The political climate in the USA and around the world can be quite confusing and perhaps frustrating. Our faith challenges us with a call to action, but perhaps we are sometimes stumbled by the the big question of “how?” During the season of Lent 2017 the Newman Center – Holy Spirit Parish hosted a Lenten series around Pope Francis’ message for the 50th World Day of Peace, focusing on active nonviolence and just peace.
There were a series of 5 sessions held on Thursday nights during the season of Lent at the Newman Center:
- March 9 – Introduction & discussion on Pope Francis’ message
- March 16 – Contemplative Nonviolence: Thomas Merton & Dorothy Day
- March 23 – Fr. John Dear on “A Vision of Nonviolence”
- March 30 – Kyle Kajihiro on “Nonviolence Resistance to a Militarized Pacific”
- April 6 – Ha’aheo Guanson of Pacific Justice and Reconciliation on the nonviolence of Ghandi, MLK, and Queen Lili’uokalani. Also, peace through art directed by campus ministry student, Brenda Rodriguez, and community member, Alyce Dodge.
The series was organized by Wally Inglis, member of Newman Center and Pace e Bene, and was open to all people of good-will, faiths or none. It was co-sponsored by Honolulu Friends Meeting (Quakers), United Nations Association – Hawai’i, Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights, and Pax Romana – ICMICA.
and University of Hawai’i Art Department for equipment.
Support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
On July 7, 2017, the Holy See (Vatican) exercised its right to vote for the first time as a member of the United Nations. In its first-ever vote on July 7, it took a stand in favor of banning nuclear weapons. The Church’s moral and social teaching on nuclear weapons has been explicitly expressed by every pope since Pius XII. The current pope, Francis, has made 2017 a year in which he would focus on nonviolence. On September 20, the Holy See became the first entity to sign the Treaty, and on the same day delivering the instrument of ratification to the United Nations.
To show your support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, join your voice to Pope Francis’ by signing the petition.
Resources on Catholic Social Teaching and Nuclear Weapons
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