“The boards are primed and are ready to be painted,” were the only words of instruction given to us to paint one of the Peace Poles at PBMR. During the Mission/Discernment week that Fr. Steve Dos Santos and I hosted we had the opportunity to experience many different activities of the Center. Over the past couple of years, different Peace Poles have been hand-painted and placed on the property and around the neighborhood. Each Peace Pole is made with four panels. We could either design each one individually or wrap our design around. As ideas were thrown out, the image of the cup and cross, a tree, a person, and hearts were incorporated into the design. Isaac, one of the young men, began to pencil in the outline of the tree. Before he could begin to paint he had to leave for another commitment. When he returned about an hour later he was very impressed with the tree and branches we had painted from his pencil lines. It was awesome to see the smile and look of pride and accomplishment on his face. Although we were unable to completely finish the Peace Pole, we were assured others would do it for us and it would be placed in front of the Art Studio in the place where a tree once grew.
Interacting with the youth and young men, it is great to hear each of their stories but more importantly it was great to hear the stories of their accomplishments and being empowered as leaders. Something they can take ownership of and have some sense of responsibility. It was also interesting seeing and hearing the stories of our two inquirers, Travis Bruns from Chickasaw, OH, and Marcus Palacios from Tampa, FL and their reactions to life in Chicago. Both had great insights in pulling things together and understanding the workings of PBMR and recognized how much a culture experience it is.
Both Travis and Marcus helped with the design and drawing of the Peace Pole. It was amazing watching them take the idea and make it come alive. Like many of the other young men giving them a chance to express themselves and just see what can happen.