This is an update based on the parishes where the icon has been used so far.
It arrived in the diocese just in time to be taken to John Henry Newman parish in Crossgates to be welcomed at the Sunday evening mass at St Theresa’s church. The first thing to say about the icon is that it is big! So initial plans by parish priest Fr Pat Wall had to be adapted, as Anne Tracy from Newman parish describes below:-
For a week in February our parish was host to the Pax Christi Icon of Peace. The icon was large, (sadly it proved too large and easily damaged to be safely transported back and forth between the three churches, so it remained in St Theresa’s. Replicas were made however, and taken by Fr Pat to Corpus Christi and St Gregory’s and to both our schools.)
First impression of the icon from a distance was of its great beauty, the intense reds and blues and shining golds illuminated by the candles burning before it. Closer, you began to engage with figures, each telling their story of reconciliation – here were Jacob and Esau running (almost dancing) to embrace, and treading underfoot the sword of their enmity. Here was St Francis of Assisi, and St Clare, friends and peacemakers. Here was Sarah with the infant Isaac – early forbearers of Judaism, and Hagar nursing Ishmael – forerunners of Islam.
Each day in our three churches we prayed for peace, in our families, our neighbourhoods and our world. As a step towards greater understanding of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, we began our week by inviting Trish Griffin, who has been an Ecumenical Accompanier in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to tell us of her experiences there. Her eyewitness account was often distressing, but always there was hope. Our conversations went on long after the talk as we tried to grapple with the issues and our own thoughts and feelings.
On the Friday of the icon’s visit we had a special service of Stations of the Cross and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. The stations were presented in such a way as to enable a reflection on our own efforts in the realm of peacemaking and reconciliation. After the Stations, time before the Blessed Sacrament gave us the opportunity to pray privately and collectively for peace and for the gift of becoming more non-violent in our own lives. The icon remained the focus for private visits throughout the day and all week.”
It then went to Wakefield and through the efforts of Deacon Nick Shields (the administrator for the new ecumenical organisation – West Yorkshire Churches Together) was on display at Wakefield Cathedral. It was the centrepiece of four services there on Saturday 11 March.. Additionally, it was also displayed and used at services at St George’s Church in Lupset and at St James, Thornes.
This week the icon is in Skipton. Lucy Irven from St Stephen’s has worked with Churches Together in Skipton to arrange a programme there.
In the picture, Lucy is pictured with Rev Veronica James from Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Skipton –where there was a special service of welcome on Monday evening. Later in the week they are going to involve local schools with the icon.