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The core experience of the Peacebuilders Initiative is the weeklong summer program. Our participants learn the theology of peacebuilding, develop leadership skills, experience hands-on ministry in Chicago, and live in community with other Peacebuilders on our Hyde Park campus in Chicago.
The summer program lays the foundation in our goal to prepare Catholic young people to become agents of positive change in their schools, parishes, and neighborhoods.
“This program helped me to understand what it really means to be Catholic and how to take action.” – Nora, 2010-2011 participant
The Peacebuilders Initiative begins with discovering the theology of peace. Our faculty challenges and inspires the young people as they break open Scripture, Catholic Social Teaching, cross-cultural dynamics, and sacramental theology in new and exciting ways. As a result, the participants gain a deeper understanding of how peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation are rooted in friendship and community.
In their evening "theological reflection” groups, participants will engage more deeply with the ideas presented in the morning “theology sessions." These groups, facilitated by two mentors, tend to become a “community within the community” as the members share together how the new theological ideas they have learned, coupled with their experience at ministry sites, are challenging them to affirm and make present the Spirit of God at work in the world.
Prayer and Liturgy
Faith comes alive in the Peacebuilders community! Our Catholic faith is the common thread uniting the participants, and it is this faith that drives and guides our work of peacebuilding. We celebrate and share it in prayer through eleven liturgies during the summer program week. Participants are exposed to a variety of different liturgical celebrations, including Liturgy of the Hours, Taize prayer, a reconciliation service, and Mass.
The summer program closes with a joyful and inspiring commissioning service, to which the family, friends, and partner contacts of the participants are all invited.
Peacebuilders serve in real ministry situations. They sing with women overcoming addiction. They listen to elders who have few other people to talk to. They offer respect and attention to persons with mental illness.
By engaging with people at our ministry sites who are often very different from themselves, the participants’ eyes are opened to issues affecting our city and they begin to envision how they might use their resources and gifts to respond. Our ministry sites represent a variety of service-based organizations that are selected because of their ability to facilitate relationships between their clients and the Peacebuilders participants.
“My fellow participants were amazing…There’s no atmosphere like the one here." - Craig, 2010-2011 participant
Peacebuilders creates long-lasting bonds. These bonds begin to form during the summer program and are strengthened throughout their yearlong journey in the program. Throughout that time, the mentors and participants support each other as they seek to apply their energy and skills to transform their parish and school communities.