Weekly peace vigil held outside College Church


For the past 15 years, since Sept. 11, 2001, a group of people have gathered on the steps outside of St. Francis Xavier College Church to promote peace. On Sunday, Nov. 13, it was one of the first cold nights of the season, yet there was a group of about 15 on the steps.

They were holding signs and candles, and sang original songs, following a moment of silence. Mark Fredrickson, a leader of the peace vigil group, has been around for 14 of the 15 years. He says that he does this to attempt to calm tensions between people.

The vigil begins at 7 p.m. and ends around 7:30. Mary Wuller, who has been attending the vigil every Sunday for the entirety of the 15 years, says that she, “wishes more SLU students would join them.”

Since the vigil only lasts 30 minutes, it is not a big time commitment, and it is promoting peace, which the world is in need of. Wuller stated that they sing songs specially written for their peace vigil by one of their own.

These St. Louis citizens are passionate about peace. Most of them grew up in a time where protesting was around often: the Vietnam war, the 1980 election in which Reagan won and countless other occasions. They have seen how protesting works- the good and the bad parts. The 15-year-old tradition of having a peace vigil on the College Church steps currently works for them and inspires them.

Freshman Maya Crowe-Barnes feels differently about peace vigils: she feels that they are “inadequate.” She is not explaining that the world does not need peace, she agrees that peace vigils, “can be good emotional outlets,” but cannot do too much for the world as a whole. This is a common viewpoint for students at SLU. One issue with peace vigils Crowe-Barnes questions is that, “they can be used to invalidate people who are calling for justice instead of peace.”

Of course, this is not what everyone agrees on. For some, peace vigils are needed in times like these. Freshmen Sofia Hingorani opposed Crowe-Barnes’ opinion by explaining that, “silent protests are quiet. That makes other people feel that they have to be quiet. It’s more powerful that screaming. They listen to our silence.”

Leader Mark Fredrickson protested the Vietnam war and said that this time is just as important. Fredrickson explained what is happening at the protest at Standing Rock Reservation, “there are military vehicles there saying they are protecting the people, when all it looks like is a battlefield.” In the state that America is in, Fredrickson plainly put it that “the war is at home.”

While standing with a candle in the cold listening to people sing that they have “peace like a river” and “love like an ocean,” the peace vigil seemed to be working. Not in a way that it will rid the world of hatred, but in a deeper way. A personal sense, somewhat like meditation. What they are doing is good for the soul. Throughout the night, there were countless honks agreeing with the message coming from cars passing by. The people agree that, “Black Lives Matter,” and they are for “justice not war.”

This peace vigil happens every Sunday night on the College Church steps. Mary made it very clear that they would do, “anything to get more students to join [them].” They line up on the steps into the church holding signs beginning at 7:00 p.m. Anyone is welcome to stand with them with whatever message they would like to share.

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