By Jenny Cafiso
Building peace is like the work of a hummingbird, which spreads seeds and new life from flower to flower with its wings and beak. With these words, Fr. Ismael (Melo) Moreno Coto, SJ described the efforts of people in Honduras who, despite death threats and powerful opposition, work to build peace in their communities. These include groups of poor women who run programs like Step by Step and Mothers-Mentors that provide creative activities for young people, as well as formation in peace and civic engagement.
Fr. Melo was responding to an invitation from Canadian Jesuits International, (CJI) to share his experience in peacebuilding in the midst of conflict. His reflections and those of two other Jesuits, Fr. Mauricio Garcia Duran, SJ, from Colombia and Fr. Rohan Tulloch, SJ, from Jamaica, were published in the Spring & Summer issue of the CJI newsletter, Mission News. Theirs are not theoretical musings, but reflections based on years of faithful, courageous commitment to peace, rooted in love for the people.
The sad realization was that we had many people to choose from to write these reflections. Many CJI partners, whether in Syria, South Sudan, or India, are working in situations of conflict which range from open warfare to violence due to inequality, exclusion, or conflict over resources.
Fr. Mauricio spoke of the need to work on peacekeeping, peacemaking and peacebuilding to achieve a lasting peace. Fr. Rohan spoke of activities ranging from kindergartens to parenting centres, and from income generation to dialogue with gang members.
Their realities are different, but they all speak of the link between injustice and violence, of the complexity of war and of peace building. And most significantly, they all speak of hope, of resilience and of new life in the midst of death.
They also all focus on the women, men, and young people who work for peace with courage and determination. They are small lights which shine in the darkness and, like the hummingbird, bring new life, drop by drop.
We too are called to work for a lasting peace based on justice. We too can shine in the darkness.
“Peace firstly means there are no wars … but it also means that there is friendship between all, that every day a step ahead is made for justice, so that there are no more children who are hungry, that there are no more sick children who do not have the possibility of receiving healthcare. Doing all of this means making peace.-Pope Francis
from audience with children of “The Peace Factory,” Rome, May 12, 2015.
For more information, please visit the CJI website.
Photos: JRS Colombia, ERIC/Radio Progreso and Fr. Jim Webb, SJ