Circle the City with Love

Written on: June 27, 2017

Every now and again something comes along that you know is the right thing to do, not necessary, but right! That was the case when Maryellen Glackin discovered Circle the City with Love. It originated in Cleveland, OH on July 16, 2016 with Sister Rita Petruzeillo, CSJ. The Republican National Convention was about to be hosted in Cleveland and tension was high, so was the feeling of helplessness among many to bring about some degree of peace and stability. That is until Sister Rita had an inspiration that grew into her mission:

to stand together in prayer holding hands in silence embodying the power of love that brings healing, peace, and justice to our world.

In just one year, this action known as Circle the City with Love caught on globally. The invitation was sent out to join the Circle on its first anniversary, July 16, 2017. At Maryellen’s promptings the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart at Holy Redeemer Lafayette and the Magnificat Community hosted a Circle the City prayer for all the residents and employees at each location. Due to scheduling needs the Magnificat Community held theirs on July 14.

It was so well received there that they will hold a monthly “circle”.

Such an event, while simple to experience does require the work of organizing. Sister Anne Boyer and Joan Maher, Director of Activities made the “Circle” happen at  Holy Redeemer Lafayette, and Jane Selinske, our Community Life Administrator made it happen at the Magnificat Community. Maryellen Glackin brought the idea to our attention and made the very attractive flyers and invitations that were sent out to all Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart in the Philadelphia area, Grey Nun Associates and Colleagues. To them we say “Thank you!”

A movement began in Cleveland just before the Republican National Convention, to create a space for people to gather and pray for peace. A small band of Inter-faith organizers, including the Sisters of St. Joseph (CSJ) thought that they would gather a small group of people to stand in silence on a local bridge for thirty minutes. They never expected the numbers who turned out, or the press coverage!

Since then, there have been additional initiatives around the globe as people respond to a call to stand with others holding hands, no talking, no preaching, just listening to the still small voice within, allowing a space for peace to grow within each of us.

This year the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart will be joining in this movement at Holy Redeemer Lafayette, where many of our Sisters live. The date is Sunday, July 16. Because of safety concerns for the older residents, this will be a private event, but you are encouraged to join us where you are, or to find another location by visiting the website for Circle the City with Love (see below).

Contemplative Dialogue is something we have been working on as a congregation. It begins with contemplative listening to what comes forth from each of us. No true dialogue can happen until we learn to quiet the noise in our lives, and hear the truth within our own hearts. We invite you to join us in this deep listening!

Below is a letter from Sister Rita Petruziello, CSJ, explaining more about the effectiveness of gathered silence…

Standing for Love is a Practice

Standing for Love in silence restores all that is lost and broken in ourselves. So too, we begin to realize that we are falling in love with each and every person in the world.

As we go on in this practice, we often fail. This is not an obstacle as long as we see our failure as just another opportunity to renew compassionate love for all in the midst of our wayward ways

As our fidelity to silence continues to deepen, we experience within ourselves how compassionate love uses us for its own purpose by inspiring, even impelling us, to do what we can to ease the burden and calm the distress of those around us.

Silence embodies compassion that forms the essential bond between seeking Love and all forms of social justice. The more we are transformed in Love, the more we are impelled to act with compassion toward others, to bring justice for all.


Love is not really an action that you do:  Rather it is what and who you are in your deepest essence.
Love is a place that already exists inside of you. It is also greater than you.
You get more love by letting it flow through you. If you love, you will become more loving.

Adapted from the work of Richard Rohr, OFM and Jim Finley

We are being called to a new level of engagement and action. Hard as it will be, we are called to take a radical dive into the deep listening that can reveal the new way forward. Let us commit to seeing the nourishment of our community in this very struggle. Only love can cast out hate, and we accept this challenge.

Simone Campbell

Sister Rita Petruziello CSJ

June, 2017

To learn more about Circle the City with Love, click here

To learn more about Contemplative Dialogue, click here.

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