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posted: 12/16/2012 6:00 AM

Bethlehem Peace Light coming to Bloomingdale

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By John Jaresko
St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral

The Peace Light that marks the spot in Bethlehem where Christ was believed to have been born will travel to Bloomingdale this year.

Each year, a child from Upper Austria fetches the light from the Bethlehem grotto and the light is flown to Austria. There it is distributed at a service of dedication to delegations from across Europe who take it back, with a message of peace, to their own countries for use at ecumenical services throughout the continent.

Scouts and guides can take the light to houses of worship, hospitals, homeless shelters, old people's homes, prisons, and places of public, cultural and political importance -- to anybody who appreciates the significance of the "gift."

This year, the Ukrainian scouting organization PLAST will bring the Bethlehem Peace Light flame to Bloomingdale at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, at St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, 300 E. Army Trail Road. The Peace Light will burn continuously through the Ukrainian Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 7.

Other Christian churches and organizations are encouraged to participate in the transfer and bring lanterns to take the flame and distribute in their communities.

A short prayer service will follow the transfer.

The Peace Light from Bethlehem campaign was originally organized in 1986 by the Austrian broadcasting company and was part of a large charitable relief mission, Light into Darkness, for children in need in Austria and abroad.

Since 1989, cooperation between Scouts and guides in many countries has allowed the light to travel throughout Europe.

The Peace Light first came to New York in 2001 when Canadian Scouts brought it to ground zero. In 2004, the Austrian Scout movement, Austrian Airlines and Boy Scouts of America International Division arranged to bring the 2004 Peace Light to New York on Dec. 4.

Two security guards and Dr. Thomas Ertlthaler, international commissioner of Austrian Scouting, flew from Vienna with the Peace Light in two explosion-proof, British mining lamps, fueled by smokeless paraffin oil. Just 11 days earlier, Austrian Scouts had extracted the light from the eternal flame in Bethlehem.

Austrian Airlines continued to bring the Peace Light in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

For more information visit www.peacelight.org or call John Jaresko, president of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral at (630) 202-5331.

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