A Tree of Remembrance

Statue of Our Lady of La Salette in
St. Ann’s Garden of Reconciliation

As La Salettes, in imitation of Mary at La Salette, we are called to seek out opportunities to bring the charism of reconciliation to every corner of our world, or as Mary said: “to all my people.” Recently some members of the Church of St. Ann in Marietta, GA, have welcomed the leadership of the Etz Chaim Men's Club, a group connected to Congregation Etz Chaim of Marietta. Their temple is a modern Conservative synagogue committed to blending tradition and change, an affiliate of the United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism.

Michael Weinroth from Temple 
Etz Chaim speaks at St. Ann’s

For many years, these Jewish and Catholic congregations have met, discussed and visited each other’s places of worship. Recently one of the members of the Etz Chaim Men's Club, as he described it, “visited with Father Ray Cadran, who helps coordinate the church's adult and youth education programs, hoping there might be members of the parish who had served as liberators or were the children of liberators of the camps. We were astonished to find that Father Ray, himself, was the son of such a person.” 
“His father had been in the United States Army and had been involved in the liberation of at least two camps in Germany. As Father Ray told his father's story, he added that his father's experience had in large measure helped form his own decision to enter the priesthood. Having heard this amazing story, he was asked if he would consider participating in our Yom HaShoah  program.”
In their August, 2011, newsletter, The Voice of Chaim, he described their impressions: “To say that Father Ray is a humble man is an understatement, because he responded that, while he would be honored to participate, he could not imagine what he could tell us that would be more memorable than our own stories. As many of us who were there on April 10, 2010, he not only spoke at our event, but he brought much of the crowd to tears with his beautifully told story.”
Fr. Ray Cadran, M.S. reads the Prayer of Proclamation
for the Tree of Remembrance as participants listen.
“His participation also led to his heading up a Holocaust Remembrance Program for his Teen Life group at the Church, during the week of Yom HaShoah…. Again this year, Father Ray graciously agreed to speak at the Men's Club Yom HaShoah program, and he was joined this time by a number of his Teen Life members who took part in the program held at the synagogue.”
A Joint Holocaust Memorial Service was held at St. Ann’s with members of Temple Etz Chaim on June 26, 2011, and was witnessed by more than 200 guests. During the service, Fr. Ray Cadran read the proclamation dedicating the Tree of Remembrance. Fr. Ray stated: “At the end of the service we planted a Tree of Remembrance in St. Ann Garden of Reconciliation as a sign of our mutual recommitment to being Ambassadors of Reconciliation and Instruments of Peace.”
Our Lady of La Salette showed us by her loving attitude of hospitality to the two children that La Salette ministries should be very open and accepting of “all people” of all faiths, ages and histories. This ecumenical event of the planting of the Tree of Remembrance was just such a gathering.
Prayer of Proclamation for the Tree of Remembrance
Stephen Friedman, Fr. Reilly, M.S., Steven Dix;
Carmen Lerma, Fr. Cadran, M.S., Barry Rosenberg
Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the Universe, who has made nothing lacking in this world, and created in it goodly creatures  and goodly trees to give mankind pleasure.
Bless this Tree of Remembrance. May it remind us of our mutual call and commitment to care for and protect all your creation, human and material.
May we never allow hate or prejudice to mar or destroy the beauty of each human life that you hold precious and irreplaceable. May our commitment to honor the search for truth, mutual respect and the dignity of each person; bear the fruit and flower of a life in your world filled with justice and peace.
May we beautify your earth with acts of kindness, compassion and courage and so stand tall and strong in our love and dedication to your works of healing, hope and life.
This blessing we ask in your name, Lord God, creator of the universe, now and forever. Amen.
The plaque reads: “This Tree of Remembrance is dedicated to our mutual commitment as Families of Faith to grow in support, mutual respect, care and cooperation, in promoting compassion for the suffering, courageous actions that foster understanding, peace and reconciliation and to plant the seeds of hope in our  homes and hearts. (Signed by) The Catholic Church of St. Ann and the Jewish Community of Etz Chaim, Marietta, GA, June 26, 2011.”


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