Community advocates peace, non-violence for children of North Brunswick

NORTH BRUNSWICK – Community leaders from the Brunswick area gathered to thank educators for their service to children while praying for the continued safety and well-being of all staff, students and administrators.

“We gather this evening in respect and support of our township administrators, teachers and students, with sadness of the recent school violence touching all of us. We come together in unity, peace and hopefulness for the future, especially for our youth,” Lou Ann Benson, the director of the North Brunswick Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Services, said to dozens of residents gathered outside the municipal building on June 14.

The Rev. John Polyak of Our Lady of Peace Church asked for life to be dissolved of hatred, filled with peace and free of worry, anguish and fear.

Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack said it is wrong we live in a time when there is no longer reassurances of safety and well-being. However, he said it is a “blessing” there are men and women who give of themselves to protect the community.

Rabbi Mendy Carlebach of the Chabad of South Brunswick said “children are our most precious commodity.”

Sami Catovic, executive director of the New Brunswick Islamic Center, said the fasting of Muslims during Ramadan, which ended the same evening, signifies the importance of not following impulses.

“We have to revive that teaching of the necessity of self control, of restraint,” he said. “It’s not about the government coming with more legislation. We need to change how we treat one another and how we respect one another.”

He said educators sometimes spend more time with the children than their own parents, so teachers must be good role models.

The Rev. Norman Walter of the Georges Road Baptist Church referenced the Bible verse, “For God so loved the world.”

“Let’s continue this work of unity,” he said.

The Rev. Mark McGrath said “when we experience the kinds of situations that unfortunately fill our headlines all too frequently … it affects us physically, it affects us emotionally … and spiritually as well. … We recognize that it is possible to be protected in all three realms.”

He said when parents put their children to bed at night, they should “find ways to release peace to the hearts and minds of your child.

“Let peace be the mark of North Brunswick schools and let peace be the mark of North Brunswick families and let your peace be ours,” he said.

Contact Jennifer Amato at