Reflective music, prayer fill cathedral at 9/11 Vigil for Peace

Photo Caption: Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, holds the Light of Christ as candles held by those attending the Vigil for Peace on Sept. 10 are lit throughout St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Prayers for peace, healing and restoration filled St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria last Saturday in the form of music — some very traditional and some very new, but all of it heartfelt.

The Vigil for Peace hosted by the Diocese of Peoria came in the middle of a weekend of events remembering those who died in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. People seemed to welcome the opportunity for reflection and prayer, filling nearly every space in the cathedral.

In welcoming those who accepted the diocese’s invitation, Patricia Gibson, chancellor, noted that cathedrals have always been symbols of community identity, the guardians of culture and the promoters of beauty.

“It is in this spirit that we gather in this sacred space this evening,” she said.

“As Americans we vividly recall the horrors of the terrorist attacks. We remember those who have served our country in these 10 years of wars. We beg God’s continued protection even in these uneasy times,” Gibson said.

“Perhaps most importantly, we are united tonight as brothers and sisters committed to building a culture of peace in our homes, our communities, our nation and our world,” she told her listeners.

The vigil started much as the Easter Vigil begins, with the flame from the Paschal candle taken out and shared until everyone was holding a symbol of Christ’s resurrection. After sending the Light of Christ into the assembly, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, prayed that God would “protect our nation and give his lasting peace to the world.”

The evening included the premiere of “In Memoriam,” which was commissioned by the Diocese of Peoria and composed by Dr. John Orfe, temporary assistant professor of music at Bradley University and composer in residence to the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. Dr. John Jost, director of choral activities at Bradley, conducted the work, which featured Dr. Kerry Walters, the Bradley Chorale, Bach Festival Choir and Vigil Orchestra.

In addition to the musical prayer, readings from Isaiah and the Gospel of Matthew were proclaimed. The Prayer of St. Francis, perhaps the most famous prayer for peace, was read by Sister Sarah Roy, OSF, vocation director for the Sisters of St. Francis of the Immaculate Conception in West Peoria.

At the end of the evening those who attended were given the opportunity to “be an instrument of (God’s) peace” and assist in the work of healing by making a donation to the American Red Cross.

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