Circle the City with Love goes international ahead of presidential inauguration

All you need is love to solve a lot of angst in this world.

That's according to Sister Rita Petruziello of the Congregation of Saint Joseph and former executive director of River’s Edge at the congregation.

The simple yet profound concept of love is what prompted Petruziello to start the Circle the City with Love movement during the Republican National Convention last July.

The demonstration event brought more than three thousand people, most of whom wore “Stand for Love” shirts, to the Hope Memorial Bridge on Sunday, July 17, to stand in silence for 30 minutes before the convention activities began the following day.

<span class="content-image-text">Sister Rita Petruziello</span>Sister Rita PetruzielloNow Petruziello is again bringing people together with love – this time ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump – on Sunday, Jan. 15. And she’s taking the demonstration to the national stage.

“Our nation has just endured one of the most divisive and hate-filled election seasons in our history,” event promoters note. “We need to begin anew!”

The whole Circle the City with Love movement began much like an epiphany Petruziello.

“I was sitting around at the end of the night, in this climate of discontent with this whole election process, and it just came to me: why don’t we circle the city with love,” she recalls. This was during the fraught primary season. “It became a reality way beyond all expectations. I thought we’d just do something on the grounds of the church, but then it became so huge.”

It’s not about politics, or even religion, argues Petruziello, but rather channeling positive energy toward discontent. “What we are doing is putting the power of love - in silence - into the universe,” she explains. “It’s spirituality. The energy fields, the morphogenic fields, become a part of it.”

After the RNC Circle demonstration, Petruziello found herself wanting to strengthen that energy she felt. By the end of September, after attending a month-long retreat in New Hampshire titled “Journey into Deeper Love,” she knew she had to organize a national Circle event.

“We spent a lot of time on love in the universe, a lot of time contemplating and in prayer,” Petruziello recalls of the retreat experience, adding that the group also watched some of the presidential debates. “It deepened my desire and I said, ‘we have to continue to do this’ and the retreat gave me the impetus.”

By the end of October, Petruziello had organized a November 1 organizational meeting to bring Circle the City with Love to a national level in time for President-elect Trump’s January 20 inauguration. “My only regret is we started too late,” she says.

<span class="content-image-text">Circle the City with Love movement last July</span>Circle the City with Love movement last July

For the past month organizers have been scrambling to get the details in place and people registered. As of last week, about 60 people had registered. She says the event has gotten particular attention from Washington, D.C., Illinois and even Australian residents. The whole process is being managed through our website,” Petruziello says.

Groups across the country and world will gather at 3 p.m. EST for a half four of silence. Groups are advised to gather at 2:30 p.m. to organize. Participants are encouraged to wear some sign depicting Circle the City with Love. Long-sleeved t-shirts go on sale this Friday, Dec. 16 through the organization's website.

Locally, Circle the Cities, as it’s now deemed, will be held at St. Joseph’s Center, 3430 Rocky River Drive, Cleveland, from 3 to 3:30 p.m.

Petruziello says recruiting groups, particularly organizations that can hold an event on their campuses, is a priority. “It’s really groups that we want” she says, adding that she has already recruited groups within the Muslim and Jewish communities, as well as at John Carroll University, to get involved.

To register a group or join an existing group visit the Circle the Cities with Love registration page.

Petruziello stresses the event is not a protest, but rather a way to empower the incoming president. “We want to really support this administration, it’s counter-productive not to,” she says. “You can’t overcome hate with hate. Love is the only thing that counters hate. I have to believe there is some power in this. It’s going to help.”

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.