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Members News 2018

Remembering Gaza and Challenging the Arms Trade in Coventry, May 2018

Ann Farr, Pax Christi member from Coventry, reports on two recent events outside Coventry Cathedral.

Pax Christi members, Paschal Somers, Paul McGowan and Ann Farr were joined, on the steps of Coventry Cathedral Ruins, by Marwan Darweish, Carol Rank and Andrew Rigby for a silent vigil for Gaza. At intervals we read aloud the names of those brutally killed in Gaza on Nakba Day. We remembered too all those who had been killed during the Great March of Return, all those injured and all who mourn. We held posters that reminded us, and passers by, that Coventry, the City of Peace and Reconciliation, is implicated in the carnage through its Pension Fund investments in the Arms Trade. Coventry University rents property to Leidos, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, the biggest Arms Trader in the world.

Then on Thursday, 17th May, Peace Campaigners stood outside Coventry Cathedral as local citizens went in to take part in the installation of the new Lord Mayor. The posters we held read: ‘We have stopped cluster bombs. No council Tax for any arms dealers’.

In conversations with those going in , we explained that for 5 years we have campaigned for Coventry, and the other members of the West Midlands Consortium, to divest our Pension Fund money from cluster bombs – which are illegal! It has finally happened. Now we want them to divest from all Arms Dealers.

The City Councillors gathered, significantly, in the bombed ruins of the old Cathedral and processed down the steps into the new. We silently lined their path with our placards and a huge banner saying: ‘No Council Tax to Arms Dealers’. A reminder that we have not gone away and that there is more work to do!
The protest has been organised by members of Coventry Deanery Justice and Peace Group and Pax Christi every year for the past 5 years. We were joined by members of Coventry Friends of Palestine.
We do not think it is possible for Coventry to be a City of Peace and Reconciliation and contribute to weapons manufacturers  and therefore to the killing and injuring of thousands of people and the destruction of infrastructure.

 

Creating a Peace Chain in Arras, France, April 2018

IMG_2090 (1)Pax Christi member and J&P worker for Westminster Diocese, Barbara Kentish, recently took part in a peace festival in Arras, France where Pax Christi Interational was holding its Annual General Meeting.  Barbara writes here of her experiences:

15000 people were going to make a ‘human peace chain’ along the Western Front in Northern France at the end of April, to mark the centenary of the end of the ‘Great War’ and my sister and I wanted to be part of it.   The problem was finding out more.

Faites La Paix/Make Peace was an event sponsored by several towns in Nord-Pas-de-Calais: Lille, Lens, Arras, as well as charities such as  Pax Christi, and even a bank.  Pax Christi had told us about it back in the Autumn, and since we have visited our grandfather’s Commonwealth war grave on the Somme battlefield several times, we wanted to be part of the peace celebration.  There were various websites to sign up on – which instantly asked us to volunteer, to come for planning meetings, to facilitate, guide, welcome.  Alas, distance, time and expense prevented that.   But how could we simply turn up from

Members of PCI team who took part in overnight walk

Members of PCI team who took part in overnight walk

England and take part?

Pax Christi International was holding its annual general meeting in nearby Arras, and Pat Gaffney, UK coordinator, gave us a clearer picture.  There would be talks, films and concerts on the Thursday and Friday in Lille and Arras, with a major event at the national ‘Necropole’ of Notre Dame de Lorette.  This is a monument to the 20,000 unknown French soldiers whose remains were unidentified, and more recently, a monument of a different kind.  On the Saturday there would be a sort of Fair, with music, food and games in the grounds of the Arras Diocesan Centre.  Overnight a torchlight walk would trace the trenches of the soldiers,  from Arras to Notre Dame de Lorette.  On the Sunday, a triangular chain of people would link Neuville St Vaast, a German memorial, with Vimy, a Canadian one and Souchez, a site of huge losses of 188,000, of which 100,000 were French, along the Artois front.  This was the ferocious battle, in 1914-15, for the tiny hill (168 metres above sea-level) of Notre Dame de Lorette. Full article here

 

What happened for Peace Sunday?

image1Helga Galloway from St Gregory’s parish, Barnet organised a stall in here church and reports: I was pleased that our pastoral assistant used the children’s activity cards in the children’s liturgy group and with the communion preparation group.  Cards were also given to children who attend non-catholic schools and their parents.  More than 100 Pax Christi membership leaflets were handed out.

 

Frances Hogwood from Dorchester reported that her parish, Holy Trinity,  held a beautiful  Holy Hour between  3-4 pm on 14 January, finishing with Benediction.  Pax Christi prayer cards and the activity card for children were distributed and Frances gave out  more than 50 copies of extracts of the World Peace Day message

The Liverpool Pax Christi Group ran an information stall at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool on 14 January for the 10.00 Family Mass and again in the Crypt for the Student Mass. A group member in the parish of Christ the King in Childwall ensure that  Peace Sunday was celebrated and a special collection was taken for Pax Christi.IMG_2024

In London, Westminster Cathedral Primary School created an art-work for Holy Apostles Parish.  Each class  will make a 3D paper candle, writing on it  the name of a country where refugees have had to leave. These were presented on a 3D display of a road and the words ROAD to PEACE along it as well as a picture of a DOVE.

Pat Gaffney spoke at Masses at St Wilfrid’s Church, Kennington Park on Sunday 14 and at Our Lady’s Church, Acomb, York on Sunday 21 January.  Hundreds of prayer cards and leaflets were distributed and good conversations held.  Both parishes took collections for Pax Christi’s work.

Stall in York

Stall in York

 

 

 

 

 

In St John’s Church, Bath, the J&P group created a special quiz/information flyer for people to complete, testing knowledge of refugees, the arms trade etc…  The Nonviolent Jesus prayer card was much appreciated and several hundred of these were  given out.

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