EGG HARBOR CITY – The sixth annual Peace Pilgrim Celebration, Sept. 20-22 will commemorate the 60th anniversary of Mildred Lisette Norman’s transformation from a small town farm girl to international peace activist.
The three-day event celebrates the life and work of Peace Pilgrim, an American sage who walked highways and byways for more than 27 years spreading her simple but profound message of peace: “Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”
Norman, born 1908 in Egg Harbor City, grew up on a small farm on the outskirts of town, and was valedictorian of Egg Harbor High School. After many years of reflection, she relinquished her personal identity to become Peace Pilgrim.
On Jan. 1, 1953, with just the clothes on her back, a toothbrush and comb, she started her cross-country pilgrimage for peace at the head of the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. A penniless pilgrim, she crossed the continent seven times, and vowed to remain a wanderer until mankind learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food. Her spirit touched the lives of thousands of people. She transcended to a freer life in 1981.
Those who attend the three-day celebration will be asked to re-enact Peace Pilgrim’s original pilgrimage by signing copies of her original petitions for peace, which will be delivered to the United Nations and Washington, D.C. in November. Egg Harbor City friends of Peace Pilgrim will also be asking for the public’s support in an effort to get Peace Pilgrim inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
Events include Yoga100, a free mass yoga practice at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20 at the Egg Harbor City Community School, 730 Havana Ave. For those not into yoga, a film about Peace Pilgrim will be screened in the Music Room.The all-levels yoga class will be facilitated by certified yoga instructors Stevee Simone Wolos, Naida Burgess and Laurie Green, and includes live music by jazz guitarist Gina Roche and flutist Pamela Whitman. A 30-minute guided meditation by Bruce Nichols of the Friends of Peace Pilgrim follows the practice. Bring a refillable water bottle, a yoga mat and an extra mat to share.
The 2-mile Intergenerational Walk for Peace steps off from Peace Pilgrim Park, 500-block London Ave., at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21. Registration starts at 8 a.m. Donation is $5.
T-shirts will be available for the first 100 walkers. Walkers will visit the sites of two Peace Pilgrim poles along the way. The second half of the walk will be in silent meditation.
Area churches are being asked to ring their bells at noon on Saturday to acknowledge Peace Pilgrim’s legacy and the United Nations International Day of Peace.
An old-fashioned potluck picnic with musical entertainment begins at noon in the park.
Hot dogs and veggie burgers will be provided. Bring a covered dish to share. Activities include literacy activities and natural crafts projects for children. Vendors selling fair trade products and distributing information will be located in the park.
A film about Peace Pilgrim will be shown at 10:30 a.m. at the Roundhouse Museum across from the park. The Latino Club of Egg Harbor City will be hosting a health fair in City Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The afternoon ends with a unifying drum circle at 3 p.m.
The celebration concludes at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 21 with a multi-faith spiritual service on the grounds of St. John’s United Church of Christ that includes readings about peace from various holy books, musical selections and a “reverse” communion.
Throughout the weekend, participants will be able to meet with Peace Pilgrim’s sister, Helene Young, 98, of Galloway Township, and Merry Brennan, author of the latest book about this remarkable woman, “Peace Pilgrim: walking her talk against hate.” Rev. Donna Christine Park of Walk a Mile in My Shoes on the Path to Peace will be collecting gently-loved shoes for the needy throughout the three-day celebration.
For compete details, see www.peacepilgrim100.com.
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