The Sisters of Sr. Joseph of Canada, in remembering the anniversary of the beginning of World War I in 1914, would like to share this Peace Message.
Canadian Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph Commemorate the Hundredth Anniversary of The First World War with a Call to Peace-making
“Lest we forget.” It’s a cautionary plea that invokes the unspeakable horror of war.
The First World War, like all wars, was a tragedy. So, it is with great sadness and a deep desire for peace in all parts of the world, that the Canadian Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of this war.
In total, 619,636 Canadian men and women went to war. Of these, 66,655Canadians died and 172,950 were wounded. Countless others would be burdened for the rest of their lives with the horrors they had seen and experienced. All told, by the end of the war theglobal death toll of military and civilians stood at over 16 million with another 21 million wounded. Lest we forget.
Even as we cannot forget the brutalities of the First World War, we find hope in remembering a precious time of human goodness.
Wednesday December 24, 2014, marks 100 years to the day after an undeclared Christmas truce. It was a day when soldiers on both sides of the conflict asserted their humanity upon a de-humanizing situation. They stopped fighting. German soldiers started singing Christmas carols and British soldiers responded in kind. Before long, some showed the courage to leave their trench and reach out to “the enemy.” Others joined in. They shook hands, exchanged gifts, and showed photographs of their loved ones. They took time to bury their dead.
The Christmas story, which celebrates God-with-us, was incarnated anew that day.
These soldiers encountered each other as persons, despite political and military powers on both sides that wanted them to see only an enemy. In the hardened soil of winter warfare, they planted sacred seeds of peace by giving expression to their deeper desires and values.
In the spirit of the courageous soldiers who stopped fighting on Christmas Eve 1914, the Sisters of St. Joseph commit themselves to just peace-making:
- We recognize that peace-making must go beyond protests of war and human rights violations. With all people of good will, we dedicate ourselves to do the systemic work of creating just and sustainable societies in which people care for each other and the earth.
- We are aware that this work demands ongoing transformation of personal consciousness as well as profound shifts in cultural, social and economic and political relations.
- We are grateful that we are not alone in this work but are joined by countless individuals and groups that seek to remove both internal and external obstacles to peace.
- We pray thatreflection on this hundredth anniversary of the First World War may draw people from all lands into the breadth and depth of transformation that is the foundation of peace.
Sue Wilson, CSJ
Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada
Office for Systemic Justice
519-432-3781 ext. 402