Shedding light upon a dark hour

KerryAnn Lester

At 7 p.m. on Sunday, only 24 hours before President Bush announced Saddam Hussein’s 48-hour deadline to leave Iraq, the University community joined people around the world by participating in a global candlelight vigil for peace. This vigil was called by South African Bishop Desmond Tutu of the World Council of Churches in hope of “renewing our commitment to building a positive world for all nations and all people.”

The aim of this vigil was to create a moving curtain of light across the globe starting in New Zealand, where day one begins. Over 6,000 vigils occurred in 135 countries’; 15 of them within a ten-mile radius of Villanova.

Nearly 200 members of the Villanova community gathered in the grotto to pray for an alternative solution to warfare and killing, as well as for strength to calm their fears. Among them was Dr. Gaile Pohlhaus, director of Women’s Studies. Pohlhaus explained that she is “tired and disgusted of seeing bright young people go off [to war].” She was a child during World War II, in junior high during the Korean War, and had just begun her teaching career as the United States became involved with Vietnam. “With so much intelligence in the world,” she urges, “we have to find a better way to settle our problems.”

In talking with Villanova students throughout the Showdown with Iraq, Pohlhaus has sensed deep concern among them. “It affects college-aged men and women directly,” she says. “They are the ones to go off and fight.”

The candlelight vigil was coordinated by Joyce Zavarich, a Peace and Justice professor. It began with the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, followed by readings, and an opportunity to voice individual petitions. The service closed with the familiar song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

Peace can mean different things to different people. Those in attendance did not discuss their political views, our government’s responsibilities, nor the president’s actions. They simply came to pray, becoming an embodiment of the words of the closing hymn. “With God as our Father, brothers all are we. Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony.”