August 25, 2006

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

A practical and healing approach to peace

With the world in turmoil and war-related news reaching us daily, what can we do to help when frustration, worry and fear dominate our thoughts? Where can we turn for advice on living peace in effective ways?

This summer—thanks to information received from Janine Burkhart of Lawrenceburg—I have learned good ways.

Janine, who is a member of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Parish in Bright, shared an essay titled “Peacemakers” that she wrote for the Society for Peace newsletter.

It told about challenges that she faces as a second-grade teacher in a large urban public school.

“Many of my children came to school without social skills … filled with anger … ready to lash out,” she wrote. “Being the toughest and meanest was a survival skill.”

Her 31 years of professional experience did not help. In despair, she attended a Society for Peace meeting at the home of Sheila Gramaglia and learned how to turn her pupils into peacemakers.

The Society for Peace was founded two years ago by Christian Community Sister Carmela Chetcuti, who led a life of silent prayer in a Carmelite monastery for 21 years. She is now director of religious education, youth minister and spiritual guide at St. Columban Parish in Birmingham, Mich.

During a Sept. 9 conference titled “Seek Healing … Find Peace” at Drawbridge Inn in Fort Mitchell, Ky., Sister Carmela will share her “story of deep faith in transition that has inspired many to lead a life toward inner peace.”

She will define what “leads people to inner healing and peace through prayer and action.”

The conference features Robert Rogers, who survived floods in Kansas three years ago that killed his wife and four children. He promotes “hope and encouragement through spoken, written and music ministry,” knowing that if God could get him through his tragedy, “he can do it for you.”

Another speaker, Pamela Kammerer, will intertwine “a Christian walk with humor and storytelling while sharing the love of Jesus.”

In the early 1990s, she began working in a residential treatment facility for alcohol and drug addicts, and developed a curriculum on finding purpose in life. Hers is a “creative and motivational speaking style.”

Other speakers include Marty Jean Wethington, who ministers at Mother of Mercy Hospice; Mary and George Rogers and Lisa Knopp-Reed, who coordinate the “Art for a Cause” ministry; and the Rev. Mary Lynch Mallory of the United Methodist Church.

Readers can receive a conference brochure from or by calling 812-290-4305.

The Society for Peace helps men and women of all faiths extend themselves, guiding others to “move from turmoil to inner peace, from division to unity, and from hatred to love.”

I am reminded of the popular song by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson Miller: “Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now ...”

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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