Faithful to walk for unity in Steubenville Oct. 3

STEUBENVILLE — The faith community is coming together Oct. 3 to pray for unity in America, part of a series of prayer events across the nation “to help bring peace and prayer to local communities, and healing to our nation.”

Locally, activities begin at 8 a.m. with a Mass in Finnegan Fieldhouse at Franciscan University of Steubenville, with a Eucharistic Rosary Procession forming immediately afterward — around 9 a.m. — and proceed from the campus to the front of Holy Name Cathedral, 411 S. Fifth St., a distance of about two miles.

The processional will be followed by an outdoor Ecumenical Prayer Service beginning around 10:45 a.m. with the Rev. Dave Pivonka, TOR, president of Franciscan University, the Rev. Vaughn Foster, the Rev. Ashley Steele of the Urban Mission and Bishop Jeffrey Monforton of the diocese of Steubenville.

All three activities — the Mass, processional and ecumenical service — are non-political. No political signs or political slogans will be permitted. Social distancing guidelines will be followed.

“We have to get our act together,” Monforton said. “We’re not helpless — even in the Ohio Valley, we have the ability to make a difference.”

Foster said the goal of the unity walk and prayer service “is to be on the same page with God and one another.”

“Unity, peace, love, justice, righteousness, matters to God,” he said. “However, as Bishop Monforton often says, ‘We do not want to do something just for optics.’ We want this event to help the community to come together and then to build on what takes place so that, come what may, we continue to stand and work together.”

“During a time when people are inundated with messages on social media and through various news outlets, it is critical that they receive a message from the faith community. For every message of fear, we present a message of faith,” Foster said.

“For every message of despair, we present a message of hope. For every message of division, we present a message of unity. For every message of hate, we present a message of love. We do not live in a perfect world. We can complain and criticize or together we can build to make things better. In the words of a 19th century Methodist minister, William Lonsdale Watkinson, ‘But denunciatory rhetoric is so much easier and cheaper than good works, and proves a popular temptation. Yet is it far better to light the candle than curse the darkness.'”

Monforton said there’s no better way to unify and heal the nation “then through the Body of Christ and the accompaniment of the Mother of God.”

“We need to hear some positive things right now in the midst of our polarized society,” Monforton said.

“Simply put, if we do not come together and demonstrate a better way to our community, to our nation, and our world, things may spiral so far out of control, we may never regain what we lose,” Foster added. “We are not at a stagnant place. We are sinking and the gathering together of the churches is part of our effort to throw out a lifeline during these perilous times.”

The procession route begins at Finnegan Fieldhouse and will follow University Boulevard to Seventh Street, then left on to Franklin Avenue, and right onto Fifth Street to the Cathedral.

“Where there is chaos and crisis across our nation, we bring Jesus Christ and the Eucharist and our Blessed Mother into the streets to pray for our city and our country,” Pivonka said.


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