Madres por la Paz (Mothers for Peace), a group of mothers in Chicago’s Back of the Yards and Little Village neighborhoods who lost their children to gun violence, was awarded the Community of the Cross Award by the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago on Sunday, May 19, during commencement ceremonies.
Madres por la Paz functions as a support network in the neighborhoods for mothers who grieve victims of gun violence.
LSTC presented the Community of the Cross Award to the mothers for their healing ministry with each other as they grieve the loss of a child to gun violence and for their public engagement with the youth in these two neighborhoods with underfunded public services that suffer from gun violence. Through their work as “Mothers for Peace/Madres por la Paz” they offer “an exemplary witness to Christ Jesus and the Gospel by selfless service to others.”
The group, many of whom come from immigrant families, accompanies mothers in their process of grieving. Beyond the mutual support in their personal lives, the group members have decided to become publicly engaged in their communities. They self-identify as “mothers for peace who make themselves available to all youth in their neighborhoods.” They share this goal of providing an anchor for youth with the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation (PBMR) that runs a youth program and works to find restorative ways to heal and rebuild after violence and conflict in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. They give public witness to their ministry by inviting friends and relatives to gatherings on the campus of PBMR.
Oscar Contreras, who co-founded the group with Father David Kelly, C.P.P.S., serves as their convener.
Community of the Cross Award
The Community of the Cross award originated at Christ Seminary-Seminex, a predecessor school of LSTC. The award transferred to LSTC when Seminex faculty joined the current institution. LSTC presents this award at commencement to “a community, institution, congregation, or any collectively functioning Christian group whose actions manifest the invitation of our Lord to take up the cross and follow him, and whose service is directed to the world around it, both Christian and non-Christian, and whose satisfaction and honor clearly derive from the gospel.” Recipients of the award are nominated and approved by the faculty.
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The Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) is dedicated to bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it is the leading urban Lutheran seminary training students for purposeful vocations in the global community. Aligned with its Lutheran heritage and built on a foundation of intellectual rigor, LSTC’s innovative, nationally recognized curriculum gives students skills for visionary Christian leadership in the public sphere.