For the past four years, the Alpena Peace Coalition has put the spotlight on choosing the path of peace in today's uncertain world through a month-long celebration known as 30 Days on Peace.
Now others have taken note of the coalition's efforts.
On March 26, the coalition was honored with the prestigious Artisans Peace Award presented by Pax Christi International at a state convention held March 26 in Brighton.
The 30 Days of Peace initiative was the inspiration of the now deceased Sister Lisa Marie Lazio, who lived long enough to oversee the group's initial efforts. Since that time, three additional month-long observances have been held annually, with a fifth 30 Days of Peace slated for this fall.
The initiative features a wide variety of speakers, films, musical events, special church services and other activities that always begins on Sept. 11 and concludes Oct. 10, the birthday of slain journalist Daniel Pearl. Accepting the award on behalf of the coalition was Sister Catherine Anderson, O.P., Sally Buza and Carol Skiba, all of Alpena.
"We were very happy to receive the award, but we can't take it as our own," said Skiba. "There are so many people in the Alpena community who have helped to flesh out this idea of 30 Days of Peace. We are grateful to every group and person who contributed in any way."
Skiba said the coalition includes We Want World Peace; Pax Christi; LARCC (Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic and First Congregational Churches of Alpena); Alpena City Council and mayor; public, private and home schools; a myriad of area musicians and choirs; Alpena County Library, The Alpena News, Alpena Mall, Arby's, First United Methodist Church; and many volunteers, speakers and attendees of the various events.
According to Skiba, those involved in planning the 30 Days of Peace have found it to be a very rewarding experience.
"We have found the experience to be fulfilling and challenging, and most of all, a blessing as we have come to realize most of our community are peacemakers and waiting for a vehicle to express their dreams for peace," Skiba said. "We feel that we are doing nothing extraordinary but rather something that every community could easily do."
In addition to receiving the Artisans Peace Award, Skiba, Buza and Anderson presented an afternoon workshop at the conference on the history of the event, how it evolved and how other communities in Michigan can make such a worthy effort. About 20 people attended their workshop.
"The reason for the workshop is that we hope to inspire other groups throughout the state," Skiba said. "Wouldn't it be wonderful if 30 Days of Peace cropped all over the state?"
Plans are currently under way for this year's fifth annual observance that will feature Kathy Kelly, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
Kelly is a peace activist who has worked in Iraq and the Gaza Strip, and is currently in Afghanistan. She will speak Oct. 9 at Alpena County Library and then conclude this year's 30 Days of Peace by addressing students at both Alpena High School and Thunder Bay Junior High School on Oct. 10.