The Peace Abbey traces its roots to Lewis Randa‘s attendance at the Day of Prayer for World Peace which took place in Assisi, Italy during the UN International Year of Peace, 1986. His purpose for being in Assisi was to bring the sacred cremation remains of a special needs student, named Norman Nylund, who attended the Life Experience School and passed away following a prolonged struggle with cancer. For the first time in history, the leaders of the twelve major religions gathered to pray for Peace on Earth. The event took place on sacred ground at the Basilica of Saint Francis, and was the occasion for the handing down of the prayers for peace.
The Peace Abbey was created following an inspiring visit by Mother Teresa to The Life Experience School in 1988. Since then, The Peace Abbey has become a favorite place for regular visitors and retreatants from all over the world.Our calling, as a community of able-bodied and challenged peacemakers, is to respond anew to the inspired calling St. Francis received as he prayed at the dilapidated church of San Damiano in the twelfth century. “Rebuild my church which is falling into disrepair” was the message Francis heard and around which he established his order.
With time, however, Francis and his followers realized that Christ’s message to “rebuild my church,” concerned not only the physical (outer) structure, but more importantly, the spiritual (inner) structure. Materials of construction (stone, wood and mortar) were soon replaced by materials of grace (prayer, fasting and service). The church, Christ’s vehicle of grace, no longer served its divine mission and desperately needed to be rebuilt. It was Francis, the little poor man of Assisi and his humble followers who began the unending task of rebuilding the spirit of the church.In light of the interfaith nature of the historic event in Assisi, the community of peacemakers at The Peace Abbey is given to interpret the occasion as an edict to “rebuild,” not only “my church,” but also “my temple, my synagogue, my mosque, my shrine, my meetinghouse” and wherever worship of God takes place.