OremusMKE…..what is it? It is simple really. Its’ an opportunity for a parish around Milwaukee to invite people in by literally leaving its doors wide open in the middle of a hopping event in that part of the city. While the candlelit church stands open, some volunteers take time to sit inside and pray, while others roam the streets outside the parish with a basket of candles to invite Milwaukeeans into the church and “light a candle for peace”.
I have to admit the first time I heard of this I thought it was kind of freaky. Seriously, I’m going to be one of those people who walks the streets of our city and tries to get people to pray more? But cool people that I trust shared enough about their beautiful experiences at this event that I decided to try it. It rocked me.
The last OremusMKE was downtown at the Cathedral on Friday night of Milwaukee’s Bastille Days. This occurred one day after 86 people were killed during a terrorist attack in Nice, France. I was grateful for an opportunity to try and sow peace through Oremus after such a tragedy as this, and I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.
Shortly after I arrived, one of my friends handed me a basket of candles and a partner to hit the streets and start inviting people inside. As friendly and genuinely as we could, my friend and I stood at the corner and began offering candles to those passing by. At first, we had our share of looks the other way, or “no thanks”, but eventually we got people who were genuinely interested and happy to take a candle. As the night went on, so many people I assumed wouldn’t respond well surprised me with their “yes”.
One guy chose to go in while his friends stayed on the corner to talk to us. Twenty minutes later, when they began to wonder if they should go get him, they received a picture from him showing the beauty of the Cathedral lit with candles. A girl and her mom playing Pokémon chose to pause their game and went in to light a candle. Another woman squeezed my hand and told me “thank you” as she, her husband, and two daughters walked out holding hands after Benediction.
As the heavy, post-tragedy feelings of helplessness filled our world that day, people were aching to do something that might sow peace. As the brokenness of our city becomes more and more apparent to us, people still feel this way in Milwaukee daily. We want peace. The peace that only God can give both within ourselves and within our city. We want to find it in a way that is approachable to us. The open doors of this event and the opportunity to light a candle, pray, or even talk to an available priest provide this opportunity. This is why we need OremusMKE in our city.
Join us for the next OremusMKE at St. Hedwig’s on October 1st from 7-10pm