Hitchin Peace Garden

A donation by
Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrew Catholic Church

18th February 2018 - a chilly but bright Sunday morning, and a group is gathering in the Meeting House grounds. Quakers and Catholics, we are here to witness the unveiling of a plaque donated by Hitchin’s Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrew Catholic Church, a contribution to the Peace Garden. Located in a beautiful sunny spot among the snowdrops on the town-side of the Meeting House, the plaque might seem a little marooned from other features of the garden. However, the plan is to eventually lay a path that will link this plaque and other ‘points of interest’, guiding the visitor around the garden on a journey of contemplation. The brass plaque bears the following words, along with an engraving of a dove, olive branch and cross:
Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer
  Everyone can be an artisan of peace

Four such plaques have been produced, each with a different quotation but with the same engraving. Thus the plaque installed in the Peace Garden can be exchanged at regular intervals, giving the visitor something new to read each time they visit.

In the short gifting ceremony Father Tom of the Catholic Church blessed the plaque, and addressed the gathering with Pope Francis’ prayer for peace (4th June, 2014):

“Lord God of peace, hear our prayer!

We have tried so many times and over so many years to resolve our conflicts by our own powers and by the force of our arms. How many moments of hostility and darkness have we experienced; how much blood has been shed; how many lives have been shattered; how many hopes have been buried… But our efforts have been in vain.

Now, Lord, come to our aid! Grant us peace, teach us peace; guide our steps in the way of peace. Open our eyes and our hearts, and give us the courage to say: “Never again war!”; “With war everything is lost”. Instil in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace.

Lord, God of Abraham, God of the Prophets, God of Love, you created us and you call us to live as brothers and sisters. Give us the strength daily to be instruments of peace; enable us to see everyone who crosses our path as our brother or sister. Make us sensitive to the plea of our citizens who entreat us to turn our weapons of war into implements of peace, our trepidation into confident trust, and our quarrelling into forgiveness.

Keep alive within us the flame of hope, so that, with patience and perseverance, we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation. In this way may peace triumph at last, and may the words “division”, “hatred” and “war” be banished from the heart of every man and woman. Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands. Renew our hearts and minds, so that the word which always brings us together will be “brother and sister”, and our way of life will always be that of: Shalom, Peace, Salaam!