The theme for 2017 is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.”
The theme honours the spirit of TOGETHER, a global initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes in search of a better life. TOGETHER unites the organizations of the United Nations System, the 193 Member States of the United Nations, the private sector, civil society, academic institutions and individual citizens in a global partnership in support of diversity, non-discrimination and acceptance of refugees and migrants. It was initiated during the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September 2016.
“In times of insecurity, communities that look different become convenient scapegoats,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. “We must resist cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbours as ‘the other’. Discrimination diminishes us all. It prevents people — and societies — from achieving their full potential.” He added, “Together, let us stand up against bigotry and for human rights. Together, let us build bridges. Together, let us transform fear into hope.”
This year, the International Day of Peace will focus on engaging and mobilizing people throughout the world to show support for refugees and migrants. Young people will have a vital role to play. For example, they can volunteer to welcome and help refugees and migrants in their communities. They can also extend the hand of friendship to young refugees and migrants who they might meet in their classrooms and neighbourhoods.
- Visit the UN site for International Peace Day http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/resources.shtml for more wonderful resources.
- Vatican websites for Messages for World Day of Peace, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Peace on Earth feature statements, prayers, and references on peace (multiple languages).
- Caritas Internationalis offers the Peacebuilding Web Toolkit and other resources for peace builders. The Catholic Peacebuilding Network provides a list of resources in theology, courses and curricula, and tools for peacebuilding for scholars and practitioners.
- The websites of Pathways to Peace with the Culture of Peace Initiative and the International Day of Peace Education Resource Packet offer suggestions for commemorating peace day and tools and practices for building peace.
- The World Peace Prayer Society offers a wealth of materials in Deutsch and English, including the simple prayer, May Peace Prevail on Earth, in 101 languages, the Peace Pole Project, and Peace Pals Program for young people.
- Peace Day TV and Peace One Day (English, Español) provide a variety of resources, including films, music, merchandise, and teaching materials.
- Pray for peace. Prayer resources include the prayer below, and a prayer service for International Day of Peace (multiple languages).
- Organize a peace vigil; invite people of other faiths to join you and your community in prayer for international peace. Join the “Gather around a Peace Pole” for prayer and meditation: “May Peace Prevail on Earth.”.
- Ring bells for peace as UN Secretary-General rings the Peace Bell at UN headquarters in New York and observe a minute of silence at 12:00 noon local time.
- Reflect on Pax Christi Peace Stories to gain insight into creating cultures of peace and reconciliation and into sharing peace stories.
- Study the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium; consider how to live the new evangelization to be a peacemaker and credible witness to a reconciled life. (cf. EG, #239).
- Plant a peace tree, peace garden, or a peace pole. If you already have a peace pole, use this occasion to rededicate your community to the work of peace. Visit School Sisters of Notre Dame peace poles sites.
- Create pinwheels for peace to express your hope for peace and “plant” the pinwheels outside at schools, museums, and other public places to spread thoughts and feelings about peace throughout the country and the world.
- Learn about Catholic Peacebuilding organizations; join a peace network or movement, such as the Catholic Peacebuilding Network or Pax Christi International or one of its partners to be part of ongoing local and global efforts to build peace.
Lead us from death to life, from falsehood to truth.
Lead us from despair to hope, from fear to trust.
Lead us from hate to love, from war to peace.
Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe. Amen.
(Universal Peace Prayer)