Prayer service honors life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Selena Ponio | Wednesday, January 18, 2017
On Monday night, students were welcomed back to campus with a typical South Bend chill and a slight drizzle. However, a temporary source of light and warmth on God Quad sliced through that dreary weather: candles with “Walk the Walk Week” labels on them that sat in front of Main Building.
The Main Building Rotunda was packed with students and faculty holding candles and celebrating a message of equality during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Commemoration. After the celebration, the candles were left by the statue of Jesus in front of Main Building.
Speakers for the event included University President Fr. John Jenkins, director of campus ministry Fr. Pete McCormick and associate provost for undergraduate studies Hugh Page; music was provided by Voices of Faith.
Jenkins opened the event with a tribute to King’s character.
“He was someone who could point out bigotry and injustice, yet do so in a way that calls us to a deeper unity,” Jenkins said. “He was someone who was truthful about the struggles we face, yet did so in a way that inspires hope. He was someone who could confront hatred but [did] not hate.”
Jenkins led a prayer that emphasized the need for determination and unity in sorrow, joy and pain to continue to fight against inequality.
“May our celebration tonight in the weeks ahead propel us, may it motivate us, may it energize us, may it unite us in the commitment to respect,” Jenkins said.
Page reflected on the relationship between the biblical Amos and King. He cited the famous phrase, “Let justice roll down like waters” from King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” and its original conception in the Book of Amos.
“Amos serves as kind of textbook for those elected to serve as agents of resistance,” Page said. “We should not be surprised therefore by the frequent reference of Amos of the various writings of Martin Luther King Jr.”
Page said King often found himself in conflict with establishment forces in the political and religious spheres. He said many people do not realize that he was at times in odds with some of his church colleagues that felt he was moving too aggressively with the campaign of civil rights. Page said this should encourage people to “give up their mythical notions of when and how to act in the fact of injustice.”
“So does Dr. King encourage us here and now to strive to a commonwealth where character is the … true measure of success,” Page said. “He reminds us in no uncertain terms … that the time is always right now to do right.”
Page said each individual is a prophetic presence in the place they live, work and worship. He encouraged those who attended the event to take inspiration from both Amos and King.
“May we work tirelessly without ceasing as members of the ND family, to promote freedom and justice not for few, but for everyone everywhere,” Page said.