This past weekend, I participated in a special Mass and reception to mark the closing of one of our community’s high schools in the Chicago area. Queen of Peace High School opened fifty-five years ago and about 15,000 young women were educated there. Due to declining enrollment and related financial challenges, it is not feasible to continue to operate the school. The closing event was bittersweet: alumnae were saddened to see the school close but grateful for all that the school had meant in their lives.
One of the many aspects of life at Queen of Peace High School that touched me most was the deliberate effort to empower each student become a “Woman of Peace”. The school environment emphasized “being peace” and “bringing peace”. An annual award was given to the student who best exemplified this quality.
I was inspired as I read the words and phrases used to describe those students awarded in this final year: dedicated to building community; treating others with utmost respect; enhancing the gifts of all those around her; speaking the truth; reminding everyone that we are family; being a genuine leader and positive role model; demonstrating inclusion, partnership, compassion; being kind-hearted, loving, faith-filled, God-centered.
As I departed the culminating celebration, I too was challenged with the question, “How will I bring peace into all those places that I have an opportunity to influence?”
How will you?
Toni Harris OP