Peacemaking - Briar Cliff's new theme hopes to inspire

Graphic by Casey French

Morgan Kulzer
Broadcast News Producer

Every year Briar Cliff University has a theme based on the four values of St. Francis -- this year’s theme is peacemaking.

“We are a Franciscan university and these themes come out of Franciscan ideals,” says Gil Ridenour, Associate Campus Minister and professor of theology. “It is an integral part of our heritage as a university.” 

Ridenour says that every year the theme changes and rotates between the four values of St. Francis: building a caring community, peacemaking, reverence in creation and connecting with joyful service. 

Sister Janet May says the idea of having a theme every year started six years ago. 

“We started to do this more strategic planning of educating our faculty and staff, our leadership people, our employees and student leaders on the Franciscan values,” says May. “If we are a Catholic Franciscan university we really feel that people need to understand what Franciscan means.” 

In the fall institute, the university brings a speaker to discuss the value of the year and how to better understand that value. This year, Brother Bill Short spoke of two stories in particular: “The Wolf of Gubbio” and “Meeting With the Sultan.” 

“Francis used methods of peacemaking to dissipate the fear and the animosity that was there,” says May. “One of Bill’s focuses is that we need to be at peace within ourselves. And if we can have an inner sense of peace we come into a relationship with peace and we can respond to situations of violence.” 

Ridenour says that building “bridges” is important with this theme.

“We are always trying to build a caring community… build relationships… [and] emphasize peace where there is not [peace].” 

The theme of peacemaking for the freshmen can be kind of reassuring says Grace Gallagher, a freshman mass communication major.

“It is nice because it is more [reassuring] that people will be nicer,” says Gallagher. 

With each theme comes different volunteer opportunities, and though nothing is set in stone yet, Gallagher would like to see some group volunteer activities. 

During convocation the freshmen received their shirts and the theme of peacemaking was talked about. 

“We talked [about] how we have had experiences dealing with violence and how we have come at it with a sense of peace and how important it is to [talk] with people,” says May. 

Gallagher had a different perspective.

“They just kind of threw a shirt on us and sent us up,” says Gallagher. 

Future events include the Sister Muriel Ford lecture that will host Patrick Atkinson entitled “Slaver: It Didn’t End With The Civil War.” There will also be a mass at 9 p.m. on September 20 for the International Day of Peace.  

“When we look at our world today, peacemaking is vital,” says May.  

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Submitted by braunschweigc on Tue, 09/11/2012 - 17:25

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