Thursday, December 6, 2007

Students protest for peace

By Becky Newby
Arts & Entertainment Editor

Students from the Saint Mary’s University Peace and Justice Club withstood freezing temperatures that reached as low as 14 degrees to light candles and offer prayers last Sunday for peace in Iraq during a 24-hour peace vigil in Windom Park.

About 25 community members participated in the vigil, said senior Peace and Justice member Glenna Krzyzanowski.

“I think the vigil was a good way to keep all those affected by violence on our minds and in our hearts,” said Krzyzanowski. “It was a chance to pray for hope that someday we can all live in peace.”

Many of the participants chose to either fast, pray, meditate, read, or remain silent during the peace demonstration.

The Winona Area Peace Makers spent almost two months coordinating the vigil, said SMU Director of Student Activities and Volunteer Services Katie LaPlant. “The vigil raised awareness that there are alternative methods to violence—such as peace,” she said.

With a small fire and hot coffee, demonstrators were able to keep warm by alternating one-hour shifts. According to senior club member Laura Holupchinski, there were enough participants to ensure that at least two people were awake each hour.

A closing ceremony was marked by a special prayer and a celebratory meal at the Bethany Catholic Worker House.

The vigil was sponsored by Lutheran Campus Center, Winona Catholic Workers, Newman Center and Winona Area Peace Makers.

With roughly 25 members in the campus Peace and Justice Club, Holupchinski said there was a strong group representing Saint Mary’s at the peace vigil. She said since many students didn’t know specifics about the destruction in Iraq, the vigil was a reminder that the war is happening all the time, even when we are not thinking about it.

Each week the Peace and Justice Club meets to promote harmony and create awareness of inequality around the world, said Krzyzanowski.

“Through discussions on injustice, you form a community,” said LaPlant. “Through the community, you research issues and learn about ones that involve suffering—but there is hope.”

The Peace and Justice Club meets every Tuesday in Saint Mary’s Hall, room 232 at 9 p.m. Krzyzanowski said the group will discuss new issues beginning at their January meeting. New members are always welcome and encouraged to attend.

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