from the desk of Rosemarie Pace, PCMNY Director
So Many Activities, So Little Time
Sometimes people ask
me, “What does Pax Christi do?” I always find it a challenging
question to answer. Usually I respond with whatever our latest
event was or what our next event will be. Sometimes I expand
that to a presentation of our many
annual activities and then add in mention of our e-mail Action
Alerts, website, Facebook page, and Twitter account. I might go
further and include our newsletter, weekly bulletin inserts, and
seasonal reflections with prayers and suggested actions. Then
there are those things we have available if people seek them
out: workshops, films, and an impressive library of books.
There’s actually at least one more thing and that is a Pax
Christi Metro New York (PCMNY) presence at numerous actions and
events sponsored by others. There have been so many in the last
several months, there hasn’t been time to write about them.
Because of that, this Kerux Live!is a synopsis of some of the
places PCMNY has been on your behalf and in your name through
the end of 2016. More to come in the New Year!
The first was a showing of a wonderful film called Mariam, “the portrait of the coming of age of a Muslim teenage girl in France.” It was hosted by Turning Point for Women and Families, an organization that serves Muslim women and their children who are or have been victims of domestic violence here in New York. The subsequent discussion was rich in perspectives and sensitivity.
A “Conference on Care of the Earth and Climate Change” focused on Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si’. It included the awe-inspiring film, Journey of the Universe and Q & A with Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, two renowned leaders in the environmental movement and colleagues of Fr. Thomas Berry.
Throughout the months-long period, there were four webinars on the Rome Conference on Nonviolence and Just Peace that took place in April, 2016, convened by Pax Christi International and the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace. The webinars and much more can be found at www.nonviolencejustpeace.net. They included invaluable information from global participants in the Conference and led attendees from background information to future aspirations.
Standing Rock, ND drew people together at Washington Square Park and Foley Square to support the Dakota Sioux and to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline that has the potential to destroy both sacred land and contaminate vital water supplies.
A conference call on “The Many Wars of Syria: A Briefing with Phyllis Bennis” was a clear and factual presentation about the complexity of the crisis in Syria which is a conflagration of many conflicts, internal and foreign. Bennis is one of the most knowledgeable and reliable sources of information on the region. The call included an opportunity to ask questions, which Ms. Bennis answered with insight and wisdom.
For the UN International Day of Peace there was a special event at the UN on “Sustainable Peace-Sustainable Development.” The remarkable speakers included LeymahGbowee (Liberia), Shirin Ebadi (Iran), and Tawakkol Karman (Yemen), all Nobel Peace Prize honorees. Each spoke about her experiences “meeting personal and global challenges and advancing policies to achieve a sustainable peaceful world” in places racked by severe violence.
Doctors without Borders hosted “Forced from Home,” to simulate refugee experiences in various parts of the world. Stations along the way required participants to choose possessions to keep and those to abandon, crowding onto a small inflatable boat, living in a small tent in a large camp, getting food and water, dealing with sickness, and simply coping with the unknown. No matter how much you thought you already understood, you realized there was so much more to learn.
For the Global Day of Action and Prayer for Syria, the Community Church of New York City hosted an Interfaith prayer service that invited us to acknowledge our complicity, lament, reflect, and respond.
Two of PCMNY’s good friends and supporters were honored by Life Experience and Faith Sharing Associates (LEFSA) at a beautiful reception. George Horton and Sr. Florence Speth were recognized for their extraordinary service to those in need.
In Washington, DC, a few PCMNY members joined the No War 2016 conference on “Real Security Without War” held atAmerican University. Topics addressed ending war and patriarchy, remaking the mass media for peace, capitalism and transitioning to a peace economy, racism,and nonviolent action. On the last day of the weekend-long conference, some of us demonstrated outside the Pentagon to bring our message of peacemaking to the headquarters of the American war machine.
War Resisters League’s 2016 Peace Award went to Jannat Alghezzi of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. Her talk combined with tasty refreshments and original music made it a hope-filled evening.
October 7th marked the 15th anniversary of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. PCMNY co-sponsored and joined with local chapters of Military Families Speak Out and Peace Action for a vigil across from Union Square. We mourned the dead and called for an end to the hostilities.
The Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Committee of the Church of St. John the Baptist welcomed us to a presentation on “How Violence Works and How Jesus Christ Disables It.” It was an introduction to the works of René Girard, the renowned historian and scholar of language and literature.
Before our own Fall Assembly, Dr. Kevin Ahern, our keynote speaker, spoke at the meeting of the Justice and Peace Committee at Sacred Heart Church in Bayside, Queens, now a PCMNY Parish for Peace. His topic was “Our Civic Responsibility and the 2016 Presidential Election.” Dr. Ahern drew significantly from teachings of Pope Francis.
William Perry, former U.S. Secretary of Defense and staunch opponent of nuclear weapons, addressed a large crowd at All Souls Unitarian Church in Manhattan. His theme was his treatise, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink. His message emphasized the risk of a nuclear accident and the critical need for education and diplomacy.
Before the presidential election, there was an anti-war action that brought the Peace Pledge to the New York City offices of both major party presidential candidates. It was a pledge to oppose war and work actively for peace. It also was an appeal to both candidates to re-think their hawkish inclinations.
Students of Hunter College hosted film director and Columbia professor Bruce Robbins and others to show and discuss Some of My Best Friends are Zionists which provided interesting and informative insights into what many are told about Israel as they grow up, why they found it so compelling, and how they came to change their minds.
Another film, Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath, was the offering of the Peace & Justice Group at Guardian Angel/St. Columba Church. It is a moving documentary about the experiences of many Muslim-Americans after 9/11/01, the violence they experienced, but also the goodness of many non-Muslim Americans who, together with their Muslim neighbors, revealed the power of love over hate.
One of PCMNY’s closest allies, The Network for Peace through Dialogue, closed its doors in November, and we were there, along with many, many others, to say thank you and good-bye.
The day after the Presidential Election, there was a beautiful multifaith gathering for music, prayer, and discussion that served to build people up and heal hurting souls.
As in past years, PCMNY joined Veterans for Peace in the Veterans Day Parade. Our shared message was putting an end to war.
After the parade, many of us proceeded to Lincoln Plaza Cinema to watch Disturbing the Peace, yet another great documentary with discussion. This one told the story of Combatants for Peace in Israel and Palestine, a group with a similar mission to that of Veterans for Peace here in the U.S.
Years ago Pax Christi Queens initiated what has evolved into the Flushing Interfaith Council. In anticipation of Thanksgiving, the Flushing Interfaith Council, including Pax Christi, was welcomed to the 22nd Annual Interfaith Community Service of Thanksgiving at Temple Beth Sholom in Flushing. Protestants, Catholics, Quakers, Unitarian Universalists, Muslims, Jews, and Sikhs from the Council and the community participated.
Before our own Women’s Marches in January, Women Wage Peace organized a “March for Hope” in Israel that brought together thousands of men and women, Israelis and Palestinians, to demand an end to the Israel/Palestine conflict. J Street hosted a call with two of the March organizers, one Israeli and the other Palestinian. It truly was a cause for hope and a recognition of the good that ordinary citizens doacross the globe that the media neglect and politicians try to ignore.
From Palestine to Standing Rock, Ann Wright, retired Colonel of the U.S. Army and U.S. diplomat-turned-peace-activist, has become a leading voice and witness for justice and peace in U.S. policies. In early December, she reported on her experiences in both places, but especially as a passenger on the Women’s Boat to Gaza, an attempt to break the Israeli siege of Gaza that has included and will continue to include many more voyages until Gaza is free
In celebration of Chanukah, Jewish Voice for Peace held a rally to “Kindle Justice and Stand Against Islamophobia” at Union Square, but the message went further to condemn racial hatred and to honor indigenous rights. It was a spirited event that encompassed all people and that was filled with song and pledges of commitment to unite for the rights of all.
Again, PCMNY was pleased to be a presence at all of these invaluable events.Feel free to share your own peace activities and stay tuned for the next installment. We’re in for a very busy time!