from Gabino Zavala, Justice and Peace Director
At 8:15 am on August 6, 1945, Hiroshima became the first city to suffer an attack by a nuclear weapon. Many were immediately incinerated. Thousands more died in the next four months because of the effects of nuclear weapons.
Three days later, on August 9 Nagasaki was also attacked by a nuclear bomb. Historically, Nagasaki was the center of Japanese Catholicism since 1549 when the Jesuit Missionary Francis Xavier began his missionary work in Japan. That day 8,500 of the 12,000 Catholics were killed.
The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki commemorate the bombings every year. They have made a commitment to ensure that the memory of these horrific attacks is not forgotten and to continue to pass on information about the bombings so that we might work for nuclear disarmament and world peace.
Nuclear weapons continue to be a serious threat to human life and to all of God’s creation. Justice and Peace are intimately linked with the issue. Where there is armed conflict, injustice thrives, and injustice provides fertile ground for violence. This time of commemoration of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki can help us to focus on prayer, reflection, and action on behalf of peace and nuclear disarmament.
PRAYER IN REMEMBRANCE OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI
May the God of Peace, the God of healing be with you,
may the love of Christ dwell deep within your hearts,
may the spirit enlighten your way.
We remember the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
We stand in the presence of all those who perished.
We pray for the victims of these unspeakable atrocities.
We elevate the voices of those who have witnessed the destructive power of nuclear weapons.: the Hibakusha, the Pacific Islanders, the downwinders.
We pray for those who awoke on a beautiful morning and saw the sky suddenly rain down fire. Thousands were instantly incinerated, many others severely burned.
In the homes, streets, gardens of those cities the agony and suffering began with flames smoke and destruction.
We ask for forgiveness again, seventy-six years later. And we will continue to ask for forgiveness.
We ask you in the midst of this broken world where nations raise weapons against other nations, where innocent women, men, children and the elderly are the victims of violence, that we learn to act as peacemakers.
May you inspire us to create a peaceful world. May we call our leaders to accountability and to remind them that more weapons of war do not bring peace. Make us a peaceful people in a peaceful world. Amen.
by Fr. Bill Hubmann, C.PP.S.
In our first session at the members’ gathering in St. Louis in June, we sat at tables in triads and were asked to give a five-minute bio particularly about our lives in community and a significant event or moment as Precious Blood Missionaries.
I told of how in 1985 I arrived at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield, Wisconsin just as many young men with HIV/AIDS were coming home from the East and West coasts to die. Since I was the new chaplain, I was asked to take them on as part of my ministry. One, particular young man, “Buddy,” had come home from San Francisco. He arrived at a nearby airport where his family met him. He collapsed while exiting the plane and was brought to the hospital in an ambulance. Buddy was literally covered with Kaposi sarcoma from head to foot. He looked like he had been pummeled all about his face. In the family’s first meeting with the doctors after “Buddy’s” admission they discovered that he was gay, he had AIDS and he was dying. In shock and disgust, his family briefly saw him in his hospital room. He was on a ventilator, sedated, and unable to talk. After seeing him they quickly left the hospital not to return. “It was more than they could take,” they said. On their way out they gave the staff the name of a funeral home, that he was going to be cremated, and that they wanted everyone told that he had leukemia. “Buddy” was abandoned by his family and feared by the medical staff assigned to treat him in Intensive Care. Many covered themselves with all available protective gear. I was assigned as his chaplain and refused to wear anything more than a gown and gloves as protective gear. It just got in the way. “Buddy” had been under the care of the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland for the last six months. When contacted by the hospital about “Buddy’s” condition, the NIH said that they had nothing more to offer. There was no more that could be done but comfort measures. “Buddy” asked to be taken off the ventilator and let go. For the several days he was in St. Joe’s I sat by his bedside, held his hand, spoke of how he was a beloved child of God and how God would never abandon him. I did all that I could to comfort him. In recalling this instance I realized that it was God, St. Gaspar, and the Precious Blood community that called me to ministry and put me in this place.
Almost as an aside another member of our triad told of how he recently took a carload of Confirmation candidates to do volunteer work at a homeless shelter. It was very much an eye-opening event for him and for the young people. When they got back in the car to head home there was a sudden, unexpected pounding on the window. It was one of the homeless men. The car door opened and this homeless man got down on his knees alongside the car, reached in, and tied the shoelaces of one of the Confirmation candidates. Looking into the eyes of the student the homeless man said: “We all have to take care of one another.” A tear ran down the young man’s cheek as he realized that while he had come to “care for another,” he himself was now the one who was cared for. The one who came to ministered was ministered to.
The call to compassionate accompaniment is part of our Precious Blood DNA.