Tom Cordaro does not know if a day that brings people of several faiths together might one day lead to peace. But he does what he can to observe World Peace Day each year at a Naperville church.
For the fifth straight year, Cordaro helped organize an interfaith prayer service to celebrate World Peace Day. More than 150 people packed First Congregational Church on Sunday as religious leaders of many faiths offered prayers for peace.
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"Far too often, religion is seen as an obstacle, one thing that divides us," he said. "But the world's faiths can be a positive force for peace."
Representatives of local Bahai, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Sikh and Jewish communities offered part of their traditions at the service.
The message of peace that crossed all faiths was the day's focus, said Cordaro, the justice and outreach minister at Naperville's St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church.
As society sees violence done in the name of religion, Cordaro said a fear of other religions has spread.
"There is a fear out there and anxiety and polarization occurring politically and culturally," he said. "We need to come together to see that we are not that different from each other."
During the ceremony, Cordaro presented 10 principles he said could lead to peace.
"As people of faith, we believe we have a lot to contribute to building peace and working for justice," he said. "We hope this service will demonstrate to the larger community the positive possibilities that lie when different faiths come together."
The Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher of the DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church said the opening prayer.
"No matter what background we come from, we come with one heart," she said. "For in all of our hearts runs the desire of peace."
Janice Franco made the 30-mile trip from her home in Barrington because she said she wanted to meet other people from her Bahai faith.
While at the ceremony, she said she received a glimpse of some of the differences in religions but she focused on their similarities.
"They are all proud and beautiful," she said. "In each one, the basic message of God is to love everyone. We have more commonalities than we do differences."