Mary T. Yelenick Tribute To Rosemarie:
I first met you, Rosemarie, at the Pax Christi Metro New York event featuring Dan Berrigan and Richard Neuhaus debating the validity of the “just war” theory.
It had taken me awhile to work up the courage to attend a Pax Christi Metro New York event. I had, for some time, been following the work of Pax Christi from a distance: I was impressed by Pax Christi’s courage and conviction, but a bit nervous about whether I had the chops to commit to principled public engagement. It had taken me awhile to work up the courage to attend a Pax Christi Metro New York event. I had, for some time, been following the work of Pax Christi from a distance: I was impressed by Pax Christi’s courage and conviction, but a bit nervous about whether I had the chops to commit to principled public engagement.
But my curiosity regarding the upcoming Berrigan-Neuhaus event was enough to tip the balance for me — and led me to tiptoeing into the church where the debate was being held, to sit among a group of complete strangers. I expected to feel like an outsider. But I didn’t. And that was primarily because of you, Rosemarie.
In the church, you set aside for a moment your emcee duties, to approach me — and welcome me. And in the same casually welcoming way you introduced the speakers (with no gushy pretensions, but in a spirit of equanimity and community). And the mood of the event – while marked by differences of opinion — remained cordial and friendly.
I felt comfortable. And so I returned to Pax Christi Metro New York — many times, and for many years.
And my resultant involvement changed my life — significantly.
In addition to being welcoming, you have always been a doer – modeling active leadership. You never asked others to do anything that you yourself weren’t willing to do. You arrived early on cold mornings, each year, to climb up on the truck and play the guitar and sing, for the Way of the Cross. You hoisted tables, and set out food trays, and schlepped folding chairs. And you did that over and over again, year after year.
In addition, you creatively and faithfully supported the work of Pax Christi International at the United Nations. Your many vigils and prayer services at the Isaiah Wall, and at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza – and other important involvement – gave support and public visibility to nuclear-abolition and other critical issues to which Pax Christi International is devoted. Pax Christi International is grateful to you.
Finally, I know that it was not always easy. I remember the times when – because you had a very elderly mother, for whom you were providing care – you were not able to do the things you otherwise would have liked to do. You postponed many travel opportunities, meetings, conferences, and adventures because your mom was relying on you. It is so ironic that now – when you finally have no responsibilities for anyone else at home, and now, no responsibilities at the office – your long-postponed travels are being thwarted for yet another, completely unforeseen reason: this Covid-19 pandemic.
But someday, sooner or later, your opportunity WILL come. And we will be so happy for you when that happens.
Thank you, Rosemarie, for all you have been, and done, for me, for Pax Christi, and for our world.
Mary T. Yelenick