by OONAGH TIMSON
In Derry City on Our Lady's feast day. December 8, Fr William Rafferty, of the Long Tower parish and a member of the Charismatic Movement, started the Crusade of Prayer, and a week later, after 40,000 people had started their daily Prayer for Peace, there was certainly a difference in the air. The following week the four Church leaders spoke to all the people of Ireland. Then the four Protestant churchmen, on their own initiative, met some IRA leaders in Feakle, Co. Clare, and took the first tentative steps towards dialogue. The direct result of this was the Christmas ceasefire. Somehow that ceasefire has been extended.
We have been told all our lives of the power of prayer. Perhaps in the past we held back a little, judging and blamelaying. Now that time is past, too.
"The situation in the North of Ireland," Fr Rafferty said, "has gone beyond our control, only God can help us now." He coin posed a simple prayer for peace, which everyone, man, woman and child, could say and understand.
His plan is that everyone should say that short prayer every day. There is an illustrated Crusade Scroll that can be put in a place of prominence in the home, office, classroom or factory, showing that the Prayer for Peace is being said daily. It carries the imprimatur of Bishop Daly of Derry. From Fr Rafferty's Presbytery the Crusade of Prayer has spread through the North, through Dublin, and is fanning out across the South. It has spread to America and Canada and to Scotland,
The organisers in Scotland are Ann and Bill Donnahy, of Alton Way, West Kilbride, Ayrshire, who will send the prayer and scroll to anyone who writes. There is no charge but a I p for the prayer and 10p for the scroll helps towards printing and postage costs.