Skip to main content

2020-2021: Making Peace

The 2020-2021 Franciscan value is “Making Peace,” and there is a very intentional focus on this value in University communications and events. Members of the Stritch family will share reflections on the value throughout the academic year.

Graduate students

July 2021 "Making Peace" reflection by graduate students

In spring 2021, students enrolled in the Graduate Seminar (GS 500) course completed a community service project to benefit the Sojourner Family Peace Center in Milwaukee. The project - a social media campaign - incorporated opportunities for people to donate funds or necessary items through Amazon Smile.

Students Ashaunti Davis, Liz Hardy, Monika Iverson, Lexie Liber, Amanda Suchy Maertz and Taylor York developed their leadership styles and skills while demonstrating Stritch's Franciscan values in the community.

"We chose to work with a community organization that also believes in promoting peace throughout its community, as the Sojourner Family Peace Center does."

The project helped to fund wellness, mental and behavioral health services, employment preparation and placement programs and more.

Dr. David Stosur

June 2021 "Making Peace" reflection by Dr. David Stosur

The “Logic” of Making Peace
by Dr. David Stosur, Professor of Religious Studies

It is, I’d venture to guess, commonplace for those familiar with the Franciscan values espoused by Cardinal Stritch University to recognize that “peace” is more than just the absence of war or conflict. The fact that we depict peace as something we “make” also suggests that it is a positive something, not just a “privation” of some sort. Most of us probably understand that this positive reality has something to do with forging good, healthy, reconciling, loving relationships. Saint Francis was famously able to do this by taming the wolf at Gubbio, so that the people no longer lived in fear but in a state of peace and relative tranquility, in harmony with a part of nature that had been wild and hostile but was now calm and welcoming. Francis, it seems, was able to tame the wolf, and in doing so, made the people more human.

Over the last year and a half, as we all know, nature seems to have gone wild. We have struggled to tame it (and at least from the health standpoint, vaccinations have begun to do so), but we have so often reacted out of fear. The global pandemic has brought out in many of us tendencies to dehumanize, which certainly were there beforehand: the Black Lives Matter and environmental action movements, campaigns on behalf of the far too many living in poverty or needing to escape various forms of oppression through immigration – all are protests against dehumanizing crises that have long predated the year 2020. But the fear and isolation brought on by Covid-19 have heightened these tendencies, and so many of us during lock-down have had more opportunities to notice.

Noticing—becoming aware—can lead us in various directions. We might, if we are inclined to “make peace,” take the path that protests the oppression and works to alleviate the crisis. Or, if the fear grips us, we may remain stationary and put our heads in the sand through denial, or go the violent route of taking up arms against perceived enemies and storm the castle (or the Capitol), or perpetrate lies and conspiracy theories that extend and deepen the fear. We have plenty of options, a dizzying array, in fact—and choosing not to choose is also a choice.

Saint Francis, of course, clearly advocates for the way of peace. His approach may seem naive to us—that wolf could easily have eaten him alive. Francis knew, though, that the fear itself was already eating up the people of Gubbio. “Living with” the status quo was not really “life” in the sense that Francis understood it—the “life to the full” promised by Jesus: “The thief comes only to steal and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (Jn 10:10, NRSV)

Real life like this is a life of peace, of the shalom that the risen Jesus gave his disciples when they were locked in fear in the upper room after his execution by the political and religious authorities (see Jn 20:19; in Jesus’ day, as in Francis’ and in ours, even some clergy and government officials try to divide and conquer by spreading fear and intimidation). “Peace I leave with you,” Jesus had told those disciples earlier, “my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (Jn 14:27) Francis could act out of this beyond-worldly peace because he viewed the world and its people out of the same love that Christ had for the world and its people, which was the same love that God has for all creation, a world and people that in their deepest reality belong entirely to God and were made for God, and therefore, for each other—made for shalom, for peace. As St. Paul explained to the Philippians:

     Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4: 4- 7)

This peace surpasses all understanding because it is more than an idea and not simply an ideal. It is, as Francis knew, a lived reality at the heart of how the universe was made—how we were made. It is, in the theological sense, a mystery—one that calls us for our participation in it. We “make” this peace only if we accept that Peace first makes us, as we were meant to be, and has invited us to co-create the authentic world. It’s hard “work,” this making, because the logic of “the world” as we have typically come to experience it—an ego-centered logic of consumption, competition, greed, oppression, and superiority at the expense of others—is so often put forward as the only way we “get things done.” Making peace as Francis understood it is dismissed as Pollyanna-ish if not mocked outright.

The logic of making peace, however, has neither its source in nor its purpose in the ego; rather, we are invited to belong to others, to aim for the well-being of others, to give ourselves over to others in humble, human hospitality. Paradoxically, we discover ourselves in doing so; it is within our grasp if we do not grasp at it—because this Peace already holds us in its loving embrace. The logic of making peace is a logic that surpasses the mind because it is discovered in the mystery of our being in relationship, and in living out of that mystery—the only place where life is abundant.

Salashia Burns, '21

May 2021 "Making Peace" reflection by Salashia Burns

On Sunday, May 16, Salashia Burns, '21, delivered the student commencement address to her fellow graduates from the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. In her speech, she shared the power of simple acts of peace and compassion.

"I have had a rough road to success. Many times, those difficult days were revered by simple statements and acts of kindness and encouragement. Once after an exam, my professor found me in the hallway crying because I thought I had failed. She looked me in the eye and said 'Don't be so hard on yourself. It will not be easy, but you deserve this.' And I must say - today, I agree!

The care and time that our faculty have dedicated to our success are great examples of what Cardinal Stritch University represents. After four years, we have been shown and groomed to care for others. We must continue to pass these great values forward in life. Challenge yourselves to become a better version of who you are each day. Volunteer within your community, donate to a non-profit organization, serve the poor and less fortunate, or you could even give back to the future graduates who are looking to be right where we are today. Have great intentions for others and hold yourself accountable to making a difference."

Grace Dow

April 2021 "Making Peace" reflection by Grace Dow

Stritch freshman Grace Dow shares her thoughts on the Franciscan value of making peace. In addition to focusing on relationships with others, Dow believes it is important to find peace in herself.

"Making peace not only means having peace with myself but also with what I am doing. For me, that means taking time during my day to work on new things. For example, I have recently been crocheting and reading. I find myself most at peace when I am doing either of those. So to me, making peace means finding a happy place that you can be alone and recharge.

If someone is seeking more peace in their life, I suggest taking time to sit alone and think. Most importantly, be gentle with yourself. You are doing amazing!"

Read how a program through the Saint Clare Center for Ministry and Leadership helped Dow find her place at Stritch.

Michael Taylor

March 2021 "Making Peace" reflection by Michael Taylor

Ministry, Leadership, and Making Peace
by Michael Taylor, director of the Saint Clare Center for Ministry and Leadership

One of the Gospel stories we reference often at the Saint Clare Center for Ministry and Leadership is from the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Luke. All three of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) recount the story of Jesus sending out the Twelve, two by two, to various towns and villages. The Gospel of Luke, though, follows up the sending of the Twelve with an almost identical story one chapter later – but this time Jesus is sending out 72 disciples. The story reminds us that the harvest is plentiful, but that we need more workers – more people willing to respond to the call to ministry and leadership, the call to bringing healing and hope to a troubled world.

At the Saint Clare Center, we invite people to enter into that story, to imagine themselves responding to Christ’s call, and to reflect on the clear directions that Jesus gives to those 72 disciples. The first step as you enter a town or a household, he tells them, is to greet the people with a word of peace. This is not just a social nicety, but a sign of something central to what Jesus is about. The foundation of ministry, it seems, is relationship rooted in God’s peace. Only after initiating that relationship are the disciples supposed to heal and to proclaim the Reign of God. The order is important, so that we can avoid having our ministry be transactional rather than relational.

Living in a relationship rooted in God’s peace takes much more than just a friendly greeting, though. It takes intention, effort, and time. The traditional Lenten practices of fasting, prayer, and service can help here. Lent can remind me to fast from the negative judgments I sometimes have about others. It can remind me to pray not only for them, but that I might see them the way that God sees them. And Lent can remind me that the service I offer is not just about what I give of my finances, but what I give of my heart.

Janette Braverman, '09

February 2021 "Making Peace" reflection by Janette Braverman, '09

Singing Your Way to Peace
by Janette Braverman, '09, Cardinal Stritch University executive director of external partnerships     

Peace is a word that is soothing to the ears and comforting to the soul. Not only can it be seen, but you can also feel its presence. When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have A Dream" speech on August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he called for a world without war and one where peace could reign.

One where people of color would no longer have to look over their shoulders or be persecuted for their mere appearance or race. A world where black, brown and white children could laugh and play together, in peace. Where families would not be ridiculed or prevented from living in affluent neighborhoods because of their status or the color of their skin.

In the book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, author Richard Rothstein explains how in the 1920s, the process of de jure segregation began with explicit racial zoning, as millions of African Americans moved in a great historical migration from the south to the north. The laws and policy decisions passed by local, state and federal governments that promoted the discriminatory patterns continue to this day.

Although we thought that after so many groundbreaking cases, many issues of the past would be far gone, it is evident that they are not. Our U.S. Senate and House are both divided, and several public officials can no longer be trusted. To top it all off, our former president incited a raid against our Capitol which led to the bloodshed of Americans, the people he swore to protect and serve. Yet, he was not held accountable for his actions. This memory will be etched across the hearts and minds of not only all Americans but the world.

Reminiscing about Dr. King's speech from over 58 years ago, the issues he expressed and the racially charged climate during that time, we are yet longing for the same peace all the more. Several incidents that transpired in 2020 and now 2021, have connected us in ways we never expected. We all have a longing for peace, unity and our perception of justice. We all have various needs in a world that is so divided; necessities such as housing, jobs, healthcare, getting vaccinated and more. Constantly wondering if our needs will ever be met. Regardless of our party affiliation or lack thereof, we all long for peace.

So how do we get to a place of peace in a world so full of turmoil?

Jesus said, in John 14:27 KJV, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Our trust must be in our almighty Father. We cannot ruminate on our present or past situations. He encourages us to leave all things in His hands. Ultimately, He is the only one that can help us through these trying times.

I’m reminded of an old African American hymn called “We Shall Overcome,” which is one of the longest surviving songs in America. Its roots date back to the Civil War and slavery. In the 1960s, it became the anthem of the Civil Rights movement and is still sung by many groups and activists today.

Back then, certain songs were used as gateways to hope and peace. Singing and praying were at times all slaves could do to overcome their oppression. Although filled daily with the uncertainty of their lives and the lives of their family members, they’d found a way to rejoice through their pain. They also used songs for communication purposes, like for warning each other when trouble was approaching or songs that would lead them to freedom.

Every time they thought things were going to get better, they were often reminded of their struggle, just as we were when the confederate flag was waved inside our nation’s Capitol on January 6, 2021. "We shall overcome" was a hymn that boosted their faith and spirit in a world where injustice was justice.

Dr. King said, "... we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt." Many of us are yet holding on to this hope. Therefore, I encourage you to pray, sing, meditate and do whatever it is that brings you peace. I pray that a few verses of the Black National Anthem “Lift Ev’ry Voice” and scripture will bring you solace.

"Lift ev’ry voice and sing,
‘Til earth and heaven ring,
 Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
 Let our rejoicing rise High as the list’ning skies,
 Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
 Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
 Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us; Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
 Let us march on ’til victory is won."

“...And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 KJV

Stritch panel

January 2021: Making Peace - A Catholic Conversation on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In observance of Martin Luther King Day, Stritch hosted a virtual panel discussion focused on examining King's legacy through a Catholic lens.

Panelists included Dr. Dan Scholz, interim president; Joyce Ashley, executive assistant to the vice president for University Advancement; Akua Kankam, director of University Ministry; and Michael Taylor, director of the Saint Clare Center for Ministry and Leadership.

View the panel discussion
Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

December 2020 "Making Peace" prayer recited by student Sonya Valadez Lopez

Stritch senior Sonya Valadez Lopez shares the "Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi" in English and Spanish.

"The prayer is beautiful," said Sonya. "I grew up singing in my church's choir, and we often sang this prayer during Mass."

View Sonya's video
Akua Kankam

November 2020 "Making Peace" reflection from Akua Kankam

In 1956, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote a sermon entitled "When Peace Becomes Obnoxious." In the sermon, King addresses the "false peace" that settled upon the city of Tuscaloosa after the University of Alabama rescinded its admission of Miss Autherine Lucy, its first African American student.

Through this sermon, King tells us that, as Christians, we are called to move in the ways of Christ. And at times, we are called to fight against "peace" that is only in existence because of injustice. Much like Saints Francis and Clare, when we are challenged to make peace, we are called to fight the things that allow injustice to flourish.

View Akua's video reflection
Student Emily Czaplewski

October 2020 "Making Peace" reflection from student Emily Czaplewski

Each year, the Stritch community focuses on one of St. Francis’ values, and this year’s value is making peace. Like the other contradictions of St. Francis’ life – poverty over wealth, humility over power, joy in suffering, and life from death – focusing on peace in a year that has been anything but peaceful seems nearly impossible. Yet, once again, we can draw hope from St. Francis’ example.

Peace is not the absence of something – be it suffering, hatred, violence, fear, or death – nor is it incapable of existing where these realities are present. Rather, peace, as St. Francis showed us, can come from an internal disposition towards faith, hope, and charity, and a surrendering of one’s own plans to God’s plan. While our surrender to God may not always seem to change the situation, it does change our interior disposition, and God’s peace “which the world cannot give” (John 14:27) flows from that.

As we seek to be instruments and advocates of God’s peace, may we also remember that we can’t give what we don’t have. By inviting the Lord to carry the fear, anxiety, and sorrow that we have been bearing, our hearts become free to receive His peace. Then, when God’s peace dwells within us, it can pour forth from us and into our despairing world as “love, mercy, harmony, truth, faith, hope, light, and joy.” Like St. Francis, our mission does not begin with a fight, but with a surrender.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace!
That where there is hatred, I may bring love.
 That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness.
That where there is discord, I may bring harmony.
That where there is error, I may bring truth.
That where there is doubt, I may bring faith.
That where there is despair, I may bring hope.
That where there are shadows, I may bring light.
That where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted.
To understand, than to be understood.
To love, than to be loved.
 For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
 It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
 It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.

—Saint Francis of Assisi— 

Sister Mary Jeanne Michels

September 2020 "Making Peace" reflection from Sister Mary Jeanne Michels, '73

As you know, our 2020-2021 Franciscan Value is Making Peace. Isn't this timely, given the pandemic, our need for racial justice and the upcoming president election?

The mission and ministry of Cardinal Stritch University are based on the 12th century Spirit of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi, Italy, and the wisdom and courage of the Sisters of St. Francis who founded a college/university in their Spirit centuries later.

Four Franciscan Values enhance the Spirit of these Saints and Sisters - Creating a Caring Community, Showing Compassion, Reverencing all of Creation, and Making Peace. In many ways, the qualities of these values overlap, but each one has its own message and strength, thus we highlight one value each academic year.

Peace is defined as tranquility, calm, freedom from disturbance, harmony…all passive.

At Stritch, however, Making Peace, calls us to action by:

• Forgiving others
• Healing and Reconciling 
• Resolving conflicts
• Promoting non-violence 

How can YOU put this value into action?

In Scripture Jesus reminds us, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.” I believe peace begins with each one of us.

I'd like to share two stories from St. Francis' life that demonstrate his commitment to peace.

You may have seen the movie "The Saint and the Sultan" (and if you haven't, I recommend it). Francis reached out to the leader of the enemy during a time of war. He built a positive relationship, and transformation happened. The Sultan ended by treating the prisoners of war with understanding, because of Francis’ boldness, reaching out amidst violence.

The second story is familiar to many at Stritch, as our mascot if based on Wolf of Gubbio.

Francis was living in Gubbio, about an hour from Assisi. A pack of wolves passed through the city, and one became injured and was left behind. After some time, this wolf became violent, injuring/killing people in the city. People were frightened and wanted to kill the wolf. However, before that happened, the mayor, knowing of Francis’ spirit, asked him to reach out to wolf. And so it happened. The wolf was simply hungry…think of what hunger can do to us, to others. The bottom line, the people of the city started feeding the wolf and healing happened.

This year, I challenge you to be a peacemaker in a unique way, reach out with your gifts and talents and take time to listen to your heart.

How can we restore peace and put it into action, like St. Francis did to meet the needs of others?

Interim President Dr. Dan Scholz

August 2020 "Making Peace" reflection from Stritch Interim President Dr. Dan Scholz

When we look to the three great Western religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, each of their sacred writings have a specific meaning and application of the term “peace.”

In the Jewish Torah, ancient Israelites used the Hebrew term shalom for peace or harmony. The Israelite prophets used the term Shalom to mean more of a universal flourishing and wholeness. For the prophetic imagination, shalom referred to ways things ought to be, the way God intended.

To quote the prophet Isaiah:
 “Nations shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. House of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!”

In the New Testament, the earliest Christians used the Greek term eirêne for peace and depending on the context could mean personal serenity or tranquility, or it could mean a right relationship between you and God and Christ or you and others. The resurrected Christ repeatedly greeted his frightened disciples with the words, “eirene soi” (“peace be with you”) likely offering them “peace of mind.” Saint Paul often wrote of “joy and peace” (charis kai eirene) in his letters. He most often meant the “joy and peace” that is born of reconciliation either with God or each other.

In the Quran, Islam uses the Arabic term salaam for peace. In Islam, Peace (As-Salaam) is one of the names of God himself. For Muslims, individual personal “peace” is attained by submitting one’s will to the Will of Allah. And the ideal society, according to the Quran, is “the house of peace” because peace opens doors to all kinds of opportunities which are present in any given situation.

To quote the Prophet Muhammad:
“Forgive him who wrongs you; join him who cuts you off; do good to him who does evil to you, and speak the truth.”

Three important lessons taught here about “peace” from Judaism, Christianity and Islam:

  1. Peace is what God desires for the world and all the nations.
  2. Peace is what is born out of reconciliation with God and with each other.
  3. Peace opens the door to boundless opportunities.