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World Day of Prayer offers a call to action

Pam Young reads aloud

Pam Young and other Fort Macleod residents read aloud the World Day of Prayer service prepared by the women of Chile.

World Day of Prayer service

Barb Cote and Theresa Lambert distributed mini loaves of bread at the end of the World Day of Prayer service. The 2011 theme was, ‘How many loaves do you have?'

Fort Macleod residents were urged Thursday to follow the example of the boy who helped Jesus use a few loaves of bread and some fish to feed the multitudes.
In today’s world people need to give Jesus their talents and skills so that he can help the poor and he desperate among us.
“That one boy in the gospel did what he could,” Father Ben Marino said. “He gave Jesus what he had and Jesus did the rest.
Father Marino welcomed more than 50 people to Holy Cross Church for the World Day of Prayer service.
World Day of Prayer was started in 1922 by women in Canada and the United States and is now observed in more than 170 countries.
“It is an invitation for Christians to join and pray together ecumenically,” Father Marino said, noting the 2011 service was written by women of Chile. “We gather together to pray and act in solidarity with the people of Chile.”
People attending the World Day of Prayer service in Fort Macleod learned Spanish explorers arrived in Chile in the 16th century and went on to conquer the country despite fierce opposition from the indigenous people.
The conflict continues today with disputes about ownership of land in Chile, which gained its independence on Sept. 18, 1810.
The service written by the women of Chile explained how repression and murder have been used by those in power to control the people.
As an example, they explained how in 1905 miners and their families cross the desert to pressure authorities for better living conditions. The military ambushed and killed about 2,000 of those people at the school of Santa Maria in Iquique.
The slaughter of those miners and their families led to the organization of people to defend the rights of the Chilean people.
Another story detailed how the wives of miners in southern Chile began baking bread and selling it in the market to support their families after the mines closed in 1997.
The theme of the 2011 World Day of Prayer was, “How many loaves do you have?”
At one point in Thursday’s service, everyone at Holy Cross Church was given a piece of paper on which their were to list the “loaves” or special talents they have to help the poor and repressed.
Trinity United Church minister Rev. Eras Van Zyl read some of the lists, which contained “loaves” such as love, compassion, volunteering in the community and speaking out on behalf of people who are oppressed.
One of the Bible readings in the service related to miracle of Jesus using five loaves of bread and two fish to feed the multitudes.
Father Marino said Jesus today needs our help to feed the world and transform the desperate and hopeless people in the world.
“Jesus needs people like you and me to give him our ‘loaves” and our integrity and our honour,” Father Marino said. “If we give these things to Jesus he will take them and bless them beyond our greatest expectations.”
“This is the challenge and the invitation that Jesus places before each one of us.”
As people left Holy Cross Church to gather at the parish hall for refreshments, each received a mini loaf of bread as a symbol of solidarity with the people of Chile.