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One Bread, One Body, One People

Mary, Queen of Peace Parish celebrates ‘unity, love and peace’

By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register

ULYSSES – It was an especially poignant moment for parishioners past and present of Mary, Queen of Peace Parish gathered at the Ulysses Civic Center for Mass.
As music echoed throughout, approximately 350 people watched as a basket filled with loaves of bread, another with tortillas, and a third with rice, were carried toward the altar by families representing the Anglo, Hispanic, and Filipino communities as a symbolical offering.
The June 2 “Unification Mass” and pot-luck that followed was organized by Father Peter Fernandez with Parish pastoral council, parish commissions and groups, and a host of hard-working volunteers, as both a “Year of Faith” celebration and a lead-in to the 50th anniversary of the dedication of Mary, Queen of Peace Church, which will take place Dec. 29, 2013. “Each family read a description of how the bread is important to their culture,” explained Donna Loewen, parish youth minister and one of the volunteers. For example, the Filipino family said that rice is “the Filipinos’ staple food. In every celebration of any kind or for special feast and gathering, rice is always present. In a festivity in typical or traditional (barrio) village setting, when it time to eat, a large quantity of steamed rice is place on a wide banana leaves with different viands at the side. Planting and harvesting rice is a family affair for Filipinos, with some extended families and friends  doing it together, even neighbors will be there to help. Then they get a proper share for their respective families.  This little white grains called rice is important food in the Philippines, best of all it binds them together to celebrate life and unity in that specific event of life.”
In his homily, Father Fernandez related how bread is “such an important part of our nourishment, and how Christ is in that bread and is our spiritual nourishment,” Loewen said.
The theme for the celebration was Unity in Faith: One Bread, One Body, One People. Holding a sculpture of two hands locked in prayer, Father Fernandez, a native of the Philippines, asked, “How do you pray? … Do you pray for unity, love and peace? ...Within yourself? ...For your family? Do pray for unity, love and peace with other people, especially our brothers and sisters within our parish as one big family of God under the guidance of our loving mother Virgin Mary? Do you pray for unity, love and peace with your Anglo family? ...With your Hispanic family? We all belong to one church and one parish family….”
In English and Spanish (the Filipino language was used during parts of the Mass) he told those gathered in the civic center that they “must be true to our parish name. We must be a parish in which unity, love and peace reign as Our Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace is guiding us to that peace with love and unity as our faith must express. He said that without true humility, there can’t be Christian unity: “Arrogance and self-interests destroy any chances of unity.” In order to have unity, one must be humble, gentle, patient, and willing to bear with one another in love.
“The Solemnity of the Most Holy body and Blood of Christ reminds that although we have specific food that each group eats we must always remember that we have one food that gathers us always the Body of Christ the Bread of Life in the Eucharist that is being offered, broken and shared in sacrificial love for us to imitate.”
Following the Unification Mass, the celebration continued with a potluck dinner served in an adjoining area of the civic center.
“Everything went really well,” Loewen said. “Our community is made up of different cultures and different people, but we were all gathered as one.”

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