Planting peace, one pole at a time

By Patricia Kasten | The Compass | August 12, 2021

Fr. Joe Mattern (center) explains the Peace Pole that was blessed and planted on the grounds of Casa Esther (a Catholic Worker House) in Omro on Sunday, Aug. 1. Also shown are Noel and Bob Marshall-Warner who had a major role in the creating the Peace Pole. The three are members of the local Pax Christi chapter. (Michael Cooney | For The Compass)

ALLOUEZ — What are you doing to promote peace?

Casa Esther (a Catholic Worker House) in Omro and the Omro/Oshkosh chapter of Pax Christi planted a Peace Pole Sunday, Aug. 1, on the house’s grounds.

The event was timed to remember the 76th anniversary of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima (Aug. 6) and Nagasaki (Aug. 9), Japan, in 1945.

The Peace Pole project was started in Japan, in 1955, by poet Masahisa Goi. It is now run by “May Peace Prevail on Earth International” (worldpeace.org). To date, more than 200,000 Peace Poles have been placed in nearly 200 countries worldwide.

Fr. Joe Mattern, director of Casa Esther, has been a member of Omro/Oshkosh Pax Christi since its founding over 20 years ago. He said the local group learned about Peace Poles and decided to erect one in Omro.

“They picked up on the idea after hearing about it,” Fr. Mattern said, “and, with help from many friends, purchased the pole and became involved in this worldwide movement.”

Peace Poles are usually four-sided and bear the same message in various languages: “May Peace Prevail on Earth.” The Omro Peace Pole carries the message in four languages: Ojibwe, Polish, Spanish and English.

Casa Esther chose these four languages for local reasons.

As Fr. Mattern explained, Ojibwe was chosen because “Casa Esther is on original native American soil; Spanish since Casa Esther ministers to Spanish-speaking immigrants” and Polish because Fr. Mattern is descended from Polish immigrants.

Participants at the Aug. 1 blessing and planting of the Peace Pole were asked to put personal prayers in a container which was then placed inside the pole. Fr. Mattern said that several people did, including himself.

His prayer? “For nothing less than abolishing all nuclear weapons.”

To learn more about the Peace Pole project, visit worldpeace.org. The second-largest Peace Pole in the world can be found in Rockport Park in Janesville. It is 52-feet-tall and inscribed in 39 languages.

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