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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 21, 2003

Clergy ponder ways to comfort worshippers

By Mary Kaye Ritz
Advertiser Religion & Ethics Writer

A day after war began with Iraq, clergy islandwide yesterday grappled with the question of how to comfort their flock.

Bill Dimalanta prays during a midday Mass at Sts. Peter & Paul Church. Monsignor Roy Peters conducted the service, in which he added prayers for military personnel.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

Ann Dankulich listened intently as Monsignor Roy Peters of Sts. Peter & Paul Church offered prayers for the nation's leaders, for peace and for troops overseas.

Asked if her mood was heavy, tears welled in her eyes.

"It's been that way for a whole week," she said just a few minutes after Peters ended his regular noontime service with the ritual closing: "Mass has ended, go in peace."

The Very Rev. Ann McElligot yesterday set aside part of St. Andrew's Cathedral as a place of prayer, open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., which she intends to continue "while we're engaged in active combat." Cards with special prayers — "Prayer of St. Francis, "A Prayer for Our Enemies," "Prayer for Peace" and "Prayer for Men and Women in the Armed Services" — sit in the alcove.

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"All of us are concerned," McElligot said. "... Our aim is to find a way to speak what we believe as Christians in a way that provides a sense of comfort and a sense of challenge."

Elsewhere in the faith community, Bishop Chikai Yosemori sent out letters to all 36 Honpa Hongwanji Buddhist temples suggesting each open up at least one day this week or next.

"As citizens living in America, we can do very little to change the situation," he wrote to temple ministers and presidents. "However, we can open our temples to serve as sanctuaries for individual meditation and reflection during these troubled times."

The Rev. Jan Youth and other ministers met yesterday to consider the bishop's request. Youth, who was writing her Sunday address for the Kailua Hongwanji yesterday, acknowledged that while everyone had "doubts, fears and dreads" of what's in store, "it's important to stay in the moment."

At 5 p.m., the Rev. Cass Bailey's church in Kailua, St. Christopher's Episcopal, finished a 24-hour vigil of prayer and fasting, just as across town, Harris United Methodist, the same denomination to which President George Bush belongs, held its peace vigil outside the church on Vineyard Boulevard.

On Kaua'i, parishioners of four Lihu'e churches held an ecumenical service last night at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.

"The purpose is to give the community a place to gather, to pray for peace, to pray for our troops," said the Rev. Jan Rudinoff.