report by Sr Sabina Rifat
The Women and Kids Education (WAKE) Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative (URI) in Pakistan celebrated the Symphony of Peace Prayers with women from different spheres of life in Miain Colony, Faisalabad, Pakistan at 6pm on May 16.
To make the celebration possible, one of the members of WAKE CC offered her venue to the group. Following the current guidelines, a limited number of women were invited. Other URI cooperation circles—the Paras Welfare Foundation CC, Bright Future CC, and Helping Hands CC—participated virtually in this celebration. All of these group members came together through the URI network to build a remarkable testament to peace.
Fr James Channan OP, Regional Coordinator of URI Pakistan and Director of Peace Center Lahore, sent his online message of peace and harmony to the group, offering hope, joy, and a vision for the future.
The SOPP program began with a note of welcome by Ms Teresa, a member of a URI prayer group. She welcomed the young ladies, mothers, and working women who were present. Prayers were offered by women from different religious backgrounds. Ms Shazia read out the prayer of Saint Francis, which says, “Make me a channel of your peace.” She also mentioned that, rather than asking people to pray for us, we should live in such a way that we receive prayers and thankfulness from others.
Ms Rukhsana read some articles to inform the group about the goals of the URI, and Ms Rehana Younis recited a prayer for world peace. Sr Sabina Rifat thanked Masami Saionji for her great inspiration in praying with the whole world to uplift all humanity. She said that the concept of God is the same in all faiths, and there is no reason for enmity. She spoke about the idea behind the SOPP, noting that it is an international interfaith prayer program. Today, she said, we need prayer more than ever, as there is terrorism and intolerance. We should pray that we get rid of terrorism and live in peace. Prayer can save lives and do the impossible, she said.
The whole group offered special prayers for peace in the Middle East, including reconciliation and peace between Palestine and Israel. The group prayed for a ceasefire between the two countries, so that innocent people on both sides can live in peace.
The ladies sang a song of peace. Ms. Ruby Johnson read out Masami Saionji’s powerful message written to URI Pakistan, in which she thanked the members for continuing to pray for peace across religious boundaries.
Sr Sabina Rifat also talked about Soul of WoMen and the sixth anniversary of the Fuji Declaration. She explained that Soul of WoMen aims to highlight the spiritual aspects of women—that women have a lot to contribute and are equally important to society. Soul of WoMen is an important program in bringing equality among men and women.
Sr Sabina Rifat thanked Masami Saionji for her inspirational spiritual work and said, “We join you through promoting peace, through prayers, and through Soul of WoMen programs. Today,” she remarked, “because of Masami Saionji, we have an opportunity to pray for world peace together with people around the world, transcending boundaries of creed and culture.”
Sr Sabina then read out a poem on peace, and thanked all the guests for joining this prayer ceremony. She also thanked the members of WAKE CC for helping in organizing the program. The women had a festive meal together and vowed to pray every day in their prayer groups for world peace and interfaith harmony.