Praying for peace
What started as a friar’s personal prayer intention for Lent became an opportunity for others in his parish and beyond to join in praying for peace throughout this holy season.
Every day during Lent, starting on Ash Wednesday, Jeff Scheeler, pastor of Church of the Transfiguration in Southfield, Mich., has posted a video on social media of someone praying the Peace Prayer of St. Francis, during a time when such prayer is sorely needed.
The idea for the video project developed when Jeff was on retreat earlier this year and reread a book by Henri Nouwen (Life of the Beloved). “At one point, he mentions that sometimes when he prays, he just prays the Peace Prayer over and over,” Jeff noted. “And then came the invasion of Ukraine with many requests for prayers for peace. I promised myself to pray the Peace Prayer every day during Lent. And then I got the idea to invite others and to make a video and post it each day. I just started inviting people who were most willing. Some volunteered themselves, others I asked. So the goal was just to make myself more an instrument of peace, and invite others to do the same.”
Jeff has videoed individuals, couples, children, families and groups. Fellow friars who have participated to date include Dennet Jung, Michael Radomski, Eric Seguin and Al Mascia. The Transfiguration Parish Finance Council and the Duns Scotus Council of the Knights of Columbus have taken part, along with Fr. Tomas Miliauskas, MIC, of Divine Providence Lithuanian Parish, and Fr. Paul Chateau of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. Both faith communities are part of the same Family of Parishes as Transfiguration. At a recent meeting, Jeff asked Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit Arturo Cepeda to join in praying, and he readily agreed. Jeff’s friar friends have shared the videos around the world, and as a result, a friar in Pakistan reached out and volunteered to make a video himself.
Longtime parishioners Tim and Nancy Cahoon were happy to oblige when Jeff asked them to pray. “It was nice to be asked,” Tim said. “The Prayer of St. Francis is something we pray a lot. With everything going on in the world, this is a good thing to do. It’s a reminder that each of us is called to be a person of peace.”
It was especially meaningful, added Nancy, because the couple has traveled to Assisi on pilgrimage and walked in the footsteps of Francis and Clare. “We love the Franciscans and the work they do for peace,” she said.
“For me, it was just the right thing to,” said fellow parishioner Mesfin Belay. “I was glad to help when Father Jeff asked. Having been through the pandemic, and now due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it’s very important to pray for peace during these current times.”
“It’s been gratifying to see how this has spread,” Jeff said. “My hope is that it has touched people’s hearts and made us all more peaceful people. It may not change the world, but it will change us. It’s something we can do for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine."
Visit the YouTube channel Transfiguration Parish to watch all the videos each day of Lent.
From Pakistan: Friars Yusuf Bagh and Ajmal Shahbag, along with their coworker Mr. Buta, prayed for peace in both English and Urdu.
This article first appeared in the SJB News Notes.