Installation, Blessing Ceremony May 6
SPOKANE, Wash. – Venerable Geshe Thupten Phelgye (pronounced Geh-shay Toop-ten Pel-gay), Gonzaga University’s Global Scholar in Residence, will gift a Peace Pole to Gonzaga in a special installation and blessing ceremony that begins at 3 p.m., Monday, May 6 on the lawn behind College Hall.
Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh and Academic Vice President Patricia O’Connell Killen are scheduled to take part in the event, as is Rev. C. Hightower, S.J., director of University Ministry.
“I would like to offer a Peace Pole to Gonzaga University for its institutional birthday celebrating the 125th anniversary of living out the Jesuit educational mission of the service of faith in the promotion of peace and social justice,” Geshe Phelgye said. “This is also an expression of my deep love and appreciation to the leadership of the university for inviting me as the first Global Scholar in Residence.”
The 8-foot-high Peace Pole is made of red cedar with the phrase “May Peace Prevail on Earth” inscribed on it in four languages (English, Tibetan, Hebrew and Arab). Geshe Phelgye, a Buddhist Tibetan monk who used his own resources to have the Peace Pole built, sees it as a visual statement and expression of shared beliefs in love and peace between Buddhists and Christians. He points out that all faith traditions worldwide have love and peace at their core, and hopes the energy of the Peace Pole will “inspire and transform the thoughts and actions of global peace among the students as well as all people who walk on the Gonzaga campus.”
Geshe Phelgye wants the gift to embody the interreligious and intercultural relationship between a Tibetan Buddhist monk and Gonzaga.
Peace Poles can be found on all of the world’s continents and each one symbolizes advocacy for peace worldwide. The Peace Pole is based upon the idea that when it is planted in a community, it links people worldwide with others who have planted Peace Poles in the same spirit and commitment to peace.
“People have stood up stones as a testament or memorial. Ancient China and Tibet had Peace Treaty poles between the two countries in the 8th century,” Geshe Phelgye said. “The modern Peace Pole began in Japan in 1955 in memory of Hiroshima when Masahisa Goi (founder of the worldwide Movement of Prayer for World Peace) wanted to make a public statement about peace. Since then, Peace Poles have been planted on sites that include the tomb of Confucius in China, the pyramids in Giza, and the magnetic North Pole in Canada.”
Born in Tibet in 1956, Geshe Phelgye walked with his parents to India in 1959 to escape the Communist invasion of Tibet. In India, he studied and became a monk by age 17. He earned a doctorate in Buddhist philosophy from the Sera Monastic University in 1991 and spent five years on a meditation retreat guided by the Dalai Lama. In 1997, after a blessing audience with the Dalai Lama, he founded the Universal Compassion Movement, which promotes vegetarianism worldwide.
Associate Professor John Sheveland and the religious studies department initiated the proposal to invite Geshe Phelgye to become Gonzaga’s Global Scholar in Residence for the 2011-2012 school year. Support also came from Gonzaga’s Center for Global Engagement, University Ministry, and Student Life. Academic Vice President Patricia O’Connell Killen extended the invitation to Geshe Phelgye and continued the appointment for 2012-2013 with a focus in the second year on activities with University Ministry and Student Life.
Gonzaga’s Global Scholar in Residence project is designed to increase mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue, a priority of the Society of Jesus.
For more information about the blessing ceremony and installation, please contact Raymond Reyes, associate academic vice president for diversity affairs, at (509) 313-6550 or via email or Rev. C. Hightower, S.J., director of University Ministry, at (509) 313-4245 or via email.