Prayer service remembers King
Emily McConville | Monday, January 20, 2014
Throughout his life, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stressed the importance of nonviolence and love in ending racial discrimination. This legacy was the theme of a prayer service in the civil rights leader’s honor, held Monday in the rotunda of Main Building.
The service consisted of a scripture reading, an excerpt from King’s sermon “Loving Our Enemies,” read by Dean of the First Year of Studies Hugh Page, a reflection from University President Fr. John Jenkins, and petitions and music from the Notre Dame Celebration Choir. It was followed by a reception on the building’s third floor.
In his reflection, Jenkins said King visited Notre Dame in October 1963. His address,which he delivered in the same year as his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, concerned economic discrimination.
“He warned of dangerous notions among urban whites in the community and said it’s torturous logic to use results of segregation and discrimination as an argument for the continuation of it, instead of looking at the causes,” Jenkins said.Jenkins said the late Nelson Mandela, who led the fight against South Africa’s oppressive apartheid system and later became the country’s President, embodied King’s vision.
“It’s interesting to think of Nelson Mandela with Dr. King,” Jenkins said. “Dr. King began life committed to nonviolence but died a violent death. Mandela started in armed resistance but renounced it and became the leader of his country. Today we remember these two men and their legacy of freedom, equality and dignity.”
The service, which was open to the public and standing room only, involved members of the community, as well as Notre Dame students, faculty and staff. Emmanuel Community Church pastor Shirley Gaston, who read a passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, said she has attended the service in past years.
“I appreciate the fact that we still remember [King] at Notre Dame,” she said. “[University President Emeritus] Fr. [Theodore] Hesburgh was a person that really knew him, and for Fr. Jenkins to keep that tradition going, I’m very pleased.”
Student body chief of staff Juan Rangel, who read a petition, said the prayer service remembered King appropriately.
“I loved [the service],” Rangel said. “I thought the service did a good job of bringing the spirit of Dr. King in a peaceful and joyful way, and I liked especially how the community was involved, because you don’t see that a lot on campus.”