The Master of the Dominican Order has proposed that every December be celebrated as a Dominican Month for Peace. The purpose of the Month for Peace is to promote a global solidarity with members of the Dominican family working to bring hope in situations of violence and was, and to draw inspiration from their work for our own Advent preparation.
In the 3 previous years, the Dominican Month for Peace focused on two active war zones: Columbia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Last year the focus was on specific Dominican projects in India. It shifted our attention to situations characterized by structural and systemic violence rather than warfare.
This year, 2020, we will be praying in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. There are five areas of focus identified for the Dominican ministry of peace-building in Ukraine.
The first is for the rehabilitation of children. Socially disadvantaged children impacted by war have many significant needs. Christian Rescue Service adopts groups of children for 8-9 days and provides much needed relaxation, entertainment, rehabilitation, required treatment for PTSD, spiritual accompaniment and instruction.
The second focus is the training of facilitators of reconciliation to work with people of different nationalities and religions. The Social Leadership School at the Dominican Institute in collaboration with the Christian Rescue Service attempts to develop active and responsible Christian leaders with strong peacebuilding skills.
A third focus is to train lay military chaplains to facilitate reconciliation in the war zone. This is accomplished with a 3-year catechetical course, “Tree of Life” deals with trauma, reconciliation in war zone, nonviolent communication, ethics of communication and human psychology.
Fourth, ministry in the war zone is seen in 5 mission centers in war-affected settlements. The ministry for the chaplains is focused on serving soldiers, children, the lonely, and the elderly.
Finally, there will be four seminars on developing a possible peace plan between Russia and Ukraine. These will necessarily explore ways to overcome tension and to understand how to develop interstate and intercultural ties between them.
There are many areas of focus and much to pray about during this Dominican Month for Peace.