On Friday, April 5th Catholic Schools for Peace and Justice hosted "Victory Over Violence: Our Call to be Peacemakers" at Cleveland Central Catholic High School. 400 students from almost all of the Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Cleveland were on hand to learn about the many aspects of violence in our world. Schools met at Cleveland Central Catholic High School in Slavic Village to spend their day. The campus of CCC includes the Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus and the St. Stanislaus Social Center.
The day began in the St. Stanislaus Social Center where students grouped together and heard a keynote address from Naudia Loftis, a graduate from St. Martin de Porres High School and a current student at John Carroll University. Naudia became involved in bringing awareness to violence issues when she noticed how often her home neighborhood was in the news for shootings. She tracked each instance and mapped out their geography. For this work, Naudia has been recognized at the local and state level and has become an advocate for initiating change in the Cleveland area. Naudia implored the crowd of CSPJ students not to be afraid to take action at a young age and to always work towards making the world better.
After the keynote address, students were grouped together and followed a schedule to learn more about the issue of violence from over 30 breakout sessions. Students rotated to two sessions and were usually in groups with people from many of the other schools in attendance to promote getting to know one another. St. Stanislaus Church was the site for the next part of the day as school groups met there for mass with Fr. David Woost. As part of the mass, students from each school brought with them a paper chain with the names of those affected by violence in any fashion. Each school had a set of chain that was connected together and taken up during the Offertory.
With the conclusion of mass, students made their way to the CCC Cafeteria where they ate and worked on two activities; one was writing their state representative about a pending bill that would help curb violence in the State of Ohio and the other was sharing their thoughts of the day with their group. This led to much discussion from students from all of the different schools. The final part of the day was presented by a group of students affiliated with the Cleveland March for Our Lives, who gave a talk on their work and asked for students who were interested in that group to sign up their contact information so that they could be more involved.