Lahore: report by Fr. James Channan, OP
We had a very nice SOPP ceremony here at our Peace Center on the 22nd of May. There were about 60 participants—children, youth, men and women, Christians, Muslims and Hindus. There were a couple of religious leaders, and members of various NGOs which are working to promote peace and harmony.
I offered introductory remarks, welcomed the participants, and gave a brief history of the SOPP. I also talked about my two memorable visits to Fuji Sanctuary and my participation in the SOPP along with Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad. I shared with them the great experience of taking part in the SOPP in Japan, and how [in 2007] over 10,000 people of various religions offered prayers for peace. I stressed the need for prayer for peace in Pakistan, and that each one of us can play an integral role—as religious leaders, human rights activists, youth leaders, and so on—working for peace, tolerance and harmony. The people of Pakistan are longing for peace and harmonious coexistence.
After my remarks I read the message from Masami Saionji for this occasion. Her message was received with great admiration and appreciation. I also translated her message into Urdu, our national language.
Students of Basharat-e-Ibn-e-Marian School and ABC For All School presented tableaus, songs and dances relating to world peace and harmony. Then, Miss Zara Pervaiz and Miss Naseem Sadiq gave speeches, and Sr. Sabina recited her beautiful poems on world peace. Fr. Siddiqu Mark Sunder, OP, played music on different instruments along with four students of the Dominican Order. They played in perfect rhythm and harmony.
Bro. Haroon Ilyas, OP, one of the Dominican students, read a passage from the Holy Bible, Mr. Zubair Ahmed Farooq read from the Holy Quran, and Pandat Lal read from the Hindu scripture.
We concluded our ceremony with prayers for peace in each country of the world, holding flags in our hands. It became a very colorful celebration as every person had a national flag in her or his hand and we prayed for all the countries. There was a big smile on the face of every person. After this, we went out to see the peace pole on the lawn, newly dedicated by Fr. Bruno Cadoré, OP, Master of the Dominican Order. The children and youth were very excited to see the peace pole, and we took some photographs in front of it. Our program ended with a very delicious supper offered to all who were present for this beautiful SOPP ceremony.