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Members’ News 2017

Nonviolence study day in Liverpool – May 2017, report from John Usher 

 

27e 6.5.17 Pax Christi Nonviolence Day, the Cenacle, LiverpoolEarlier this month, sixteen Pax Christi members and fellow peace campaigners participated in the event at the Cenacle focussed on ‘active nonviolence’ led by Pax Christi General Secretary Pat Gaffney.  Around the world, there is an epidemic of violence, which Pope Francis has labelled ‘a world war in instalments’, it is invariably the innocent who suffer, and the Pope has called for ‘Nonviolence: a style of politics for peace’.
The Cenacle is a beautiful, peaceful place, we had the opportunity to think about our subject without distractions.  We introduced ourselves, and Pat then invited us all to think and share how we saw nonviolence, and she recorded our answers on a large flip chart.

01e 6.5.17 Pax Christi Nonviolence Day, the Cenacle, LiverpoolPat described the origins of Pax Christi, created to work for reconciliation following the horrors and inhumanity of the Second World War.  Imagine the wonders we could achieve together if we directed our vast military spending away from the industry of death, to that of life for humanity and the planet.  We should not speak of a ‘just war’, but rather a ‘just peace’.

We parted into three groups for separate workshops to consider examples of the courageous nonviolence of Jesus, who lived in violent times himself.  We were given several passages from Scripture revealing his positive approaches in dealing with situations of injustice, exclusion and violence.  I had read them before, but considering them together as a theme, they were an eye-opener.  I can’t imagine Jesus ever saying, ‘Love one another as I love you, I leave you peace, but in extreme circumstances I think it will be alright for you to kill each other’.  Our groups then fed our findings back to the whole assembly. We broke for a shared lunch, more a feast than a lunch.
On reassembling, we considered ways of challenging and absorbing violence, of transforming a situation and creating a greater good, the nonviolent Civil Rights Movement in the USA, forego revenge or retaliation, don’t repay evil with evil, expose the injustice of a system and strive to change it. Returning to our workshops we considered models of nonviolence, and hoped to learn from such models in action.
We considered nonviolent actions and attitudes that promote justice and peace, solidarity, witness for truth, demonstrations and boycotts, strikes, respect for others, allow others to save face, ask what it takes to take a stand, if I don’t act in the face of injustice then I’m guilty too.

International Conscientious Objectors’ Day will be marked in Sheffield, Leicester, Portsmouth, Oxford, Norwich,Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh.  Their will be a national event in London 

Images of First World War COs

Images of First World War COs

SATURDAY 13 MAY 2017

  • Sheffield, 14.30 – 15.30 – at Peace Gardens, and walk to Sheffield Cenotaph in Barker’s Pool

The Choir for Peace led by Helen Lyle will take part in the ceremony to remember the bravery of those who objected 100 years ago during the First World War and hear testimony from conscientious objectors from the past and present.

At the Cenotaph we will lay a wreath of white poppies for conscientious objectors everywhere and their stand for peace.  We will also hear about the campaign for a Peace Tax, whereby any individual could request that their taxes are used for peaceful purposes rather than preparation for war.

Organised by Sheffield Creative Action for Peace  Contact: scraptridentnow@gmail.com

 SUNDAY 14 MAY

  • Leicester, 12.30  – 13.30 – at the memorial to Conscientious Objectors of World War One on Peace Walk

We will remember the COs of World Wars One and Two; share stories of those in prison now for their conscientious objection to war; and present a charter to reduce the militarisation of young people in Leicester in 2017.

Organised by Leicester CND.  Contact: pennywalker@riseup.net – 07414 465695

  •  Portsmouth, 12.30 meet at HMS Nelson gate, Queens Street

Walk about 2 miles to Sallyport, Old Portsmouth, singing peace songs at appropriate points, and giving the Portsmouth pink peace scarf another outing.

Organised by Southdowns Peace Group, Portsmouth Quaker Meeting and Women in Black.  Contact: SueAdey@aol.com

 MONDAY 15 MAY 

  • Manchester,  5 pm Lincoln Square (Brazennose Street, Manchester M2 5LN)

Friends of Manchester Peace Garden will hold a ceremony to honour quiet heroism

  • Liverpool.  Monday  18.00-20.00  Quaker Meeting House, School Lane, Liverpool 1

People WHO refuse to take up arms – a film documentary of COs  in South Korea, to mark International C.O  Day.     Organised by Merseyside Peace Network , of which Pax Christi Liverpool is a member.

  • Norwich, 12 noon, Hay Hill in the city centre

Hour-long vigil with leaflets. Organised by: Norwich Quakers Contact:  01603 621947, joy.croft@tiscali.co.uk

  • Oxford, 12 noon / 13.00 – at the Peace Plaque, Bonn Square

CO ceremony organised by Oxfordshire Peace Campaign (Oxford CND, Abingdon Peace Group, Faringdon Peace Group). Contact: Nigel Day, oxfordcnd@phonecoop.coop

  •  Edinburgh, 17.00 – 18.00 – Foot of the Mound, by the National Gallery, Princes St, EH2 2EL

4th annual CO Day Vigil in Edinburgh – with singing by Protest in Harmony, readings of poems and the names of COs from across Scotland, as well as contemporary COs from around the world, and recollections by the descendants of First World War COs.  This year Sweden has resumed conscription.  A number of COs have also served time in Israel.  COs have fled conscription in Eritrea and Somalia to seek asylum in Britain and other European countries, and in Eritrea some COs are entering their third decade in prison.

All welcome.  We will stand in solidarity with all COs, past, present and future and launch a crowd-funder for the CO Memorial which will stand below Edinburgh Castle, site of Scotland’s national war memorial, and amidst more than half a dozen war memorials in Princes St Gardens, a World Heritage Site.  The memorial is a project of a consortium of organisations led by the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre.

Organised by: Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre Contact: Brian Larkin, coordinator@peaceandjustice.org.uk

 

Liverpool City Centre, Ash Wednesday 2017

Liverpool City Centre, Ash Wednesday 2017

Pax Christi Liverpool Ash Wednesday report by Jan Harper.  March 2017

Around  35 people gathered at the steps of St Luke’s Church in Liverpool, to reflect on Pope Francis’  Peace Day Message in the light of our governments plans to renew Trident nuclear weapons.  Pax Christi was joined by other members of Justice and Peace groups across the diocese, Quakers and members of the Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament. Some also travelled from Manchester and Warrington.

Pausing at various points on our way we stopped in the heart of the city to mark one another with ashes and to mark an image of Trident with ashes too. Listening to testimonies from survivors of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki , we expressed our remorse for the possession of such weapons of mass destruction and our failure to honour the obligations we had made under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Leaflets were distributed to passers by, many of whom were supportive and encouraging. At our final stop at the Law Courts we used rainbow coloured ribbons that we attached to the cross, naming a person or an initiative that made us feel hopeful .

Let there be Peace shared  Among Us was our final song, after listening to a moving plea from Setsuko  Thurlow , survivor of Hiroshima (Hibakusha) to take real steps to disarmament.

Messages of support came from Anglican Bishop Paul Bayes , and Fr Tom Cullinan O S. B,

DSCN0007Pax Christi member Anne Tracy writes about the Pax Christi ICON of Peace in her parish, John Henry Newman.  February 2017

The ICON is in parishes in Leeds Diocese

For a week in February our  parish was host to the Pax Christi Icon of Peace.The icon was large, (sadly it proved too large and easily damaged to be safely transported back and forth between the three churches so it remained in St Theresa’s.  Replicas were made however, and taken by Fr Pat to Corpus Christi and St Gregory’s and to both our schools.)

First impression of the icon from a distance was of its great beauty, the intense red’s and blues and shining golds illuminated by the candles burning before it. Closer, you began to engage with figures, each telling their story of reconciliation, – here were Jacob and Esau running – almost dancing – to embrace, and treading underfoot the sword of their enmity.  Here was St Francis of Assisi, and St Clare, friends and peacemakers. Here was Sarah with the infant Isaac – early forbearers of Judaism, and  Hagar nursing Ishmael – forerunners of Islam. Other less familiar figures from the Orthodox church were present – St Boris and St Gleb who refused as Christians to take up arms, St Sofia and her daughters. Here was Stephen the first martyr and Mary Magdalene, first to proclaim the Resurrection. Here was the Samaritan woman and here the Syrophoenician woman, both marginalised women, non-Jews, who engaged deeply with Jesus.   And, at the base of the icon,  was the figure of the risen Jesus teaching his disciples the Our Father.

It is said that with an icon, you don’t so much look at it, as allow it to look at you, and indeed as we stood in silence before it, the love and peace of God surely felt present.

Each day in our three churches we prayed for peace, in our families, our neighbourhoods and our world. As a step towards greater understanding of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, we began our week by inviting Trish Griffin, who has been an Ecumenical Accompanier in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to tell us of her experiences there. Her eyewitness account was often distressing, but always there was hope. Our conversations went on long after the talk as we tried to grapple with the issues and our own thoughts and feelings.

Sometimes religion is blamed as a root cause of the problems of the Middle East. But we heard from Trish how she worked in Bethlehem, in the shadow of the Separation Wall,  alongside Palestinian activists, young Israeli men and women who had refused conscription, and  Jewish peace-workers including some Rabbis, – Moslems, Jews and of Christians from both the Holy Land and from overseas, working together.  The lovely prayer we said that evening had been composed by people of the three faiths and we prayed for peace and justice as ‘Followers of the one God, Children of Abraham, brothers and sisters.’

Peace Garden revitalised in Middlesbrough, February 2017

Middlesborough GardenJPG
Nan Saeki, Pax Christi member from York and member of Middlesbrough Justice and Peace writes:

Some years ago, we built a peace garden outside our cathedral in
Middlesbrough.

The stone commemorating 50 years of Pax Christi was carved by Fr Aidan Gilman from Ampleforth. Recently, members of the J & P group at the Cathedral cleaned up the stone and it is now back to its former glory. (It had become illegible). I thought you would like to see it.  Fr Aidan will be 90 on 11th March so I am going to print off the pictures and take them to him.

 

 

 

 

REPORTS ON PEACE SUNDAY 2017

Once again we are so grateful to our members for all the creative initiatives taken on Peace Sunday, 15 January 2017.

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In St Mellitus Parish, Tollington Park, the J&P group created a powerful exhibition on the theme, illustrating nonviolence in action.  During the Mass members of the confirmation group took part in the dialogue provided by Pax Christi on the theme ‘ What is nonviolence’

Theresa Alessandro from Blessed Sacrament parish in Leicester reports that the J&P group

  • Put a peace-themed display in the space under the altar in church. There were white-flowered plants and a simple dove image.
  •  Produce a Keeping in Touch newsletter which was handed out after the weekend Masses.
  • Provide peace-themed bidding prayers which were used at the Masses.
  • And that their parish priest, Father John Jo Maloney, had spoken fantastically on this year’s theme on 1st January. There was also an article in the parish bulletin and collection envelopes for Pax Christi were available.
This was AFTER a full day on Saturday when the group  hosted a Human Trafficking/Modern Slavery awareness-raising event on behalf of the Diocese of Nottingham.  Bishop Patrick McKinney attended and more than 100 people took part. The J&P group displayed a Pax Christi icon poster which they have had framed  and gave out some of the leftover prayer cards. They also engraved some little slates with simple peace messages and sold these for a nominal charge.
Children helpers 2Anne Peacey from St. Hugh’s Church in Newbold Chesterfield sent a photograph  of Anna, Eleanor, Alice, Emma, Sophie and Evie, young people from the parish who handed out  envelopes as members of the parish arrived for Mass. Eleanor read the Pax Christi bidding prayers. Following the sign of peace they gave out the new prayer cards to everyone in the congregation.
In Leeds Carol Burns spoke as Masses at St Benedict’s Parish in Garforth,  Carol actually ran out of Pax Christi leaflets to share with parishioners.  A collection for Pax Christi raised £440 and a teacher from the local Catholic school asked about our schools work and booking a speaker. Five other parishes in Leeds held Peace Sunday events.
From St Edmunds Parish, Abingdon , Anne Dodd reports that they marked Peace Sunday with the help of the excellent resources that Pax Christi produced. Anne spoke after the 3 Masses drawing on the excellent script available on the Pax Christi website. The bidding prayers were used and one of the other prayers was printed in the parish newsletter. Copies of the full text of the World Peace Day Message were made available and the 50 copies all went!  Envelopes were handed out and information leaflets offered. One nice surprise – Pax Christi is now included in the Parish Planned Giving Special Collections so next year we won`t need so many envelopes from the Pax Christi office. There was more positive feedback on Pope Francis` key messages than has ever been heard in previous years. With an item in next Sunday`s Parish newsletter, more copies of the full text – and donation envelopes – will be taken, it is hoped.
York2amboIn Our Lady’s Church, Acomb, York, Alan Gerrard spoke at two Masses and also created an exhibition on peace and nonviolence.  Th peace flag and and an enlarged version of the Pope Francis prayer card  were used on the  sanctuary during Mass.  Prayer cards were distributed and a collection was taken for Pax Christi’s work
Tony McCaffry from Ashtead writes: Just a couple of pieces of anecdotal evidence that the Peace Sunday message (and Pax Christi’s part in it) is getting through! Today there was a Peace Banner as the altar frontal and a strongly supportive homily from Mgr. Benny O’Shea at Holy Name, Esher  with a retiring collection less ignored than some!  At St. Michael’s, Ashtead, the J&P group (ecumenical) led an hour of prayer for peace: 20-30 attending on a wintry afternoon and plenty of pertinent chat over tea/coffee afterwards. (Canon Tony Churchill a supportive
presence.) Courage to all the team!  Please keep up the good work!

From St Laurence’s in Cambridge Arn Dekker writes: At St.Laurence’s church this year we made again extensive use of the Peace Sunday booklet, using selected hymns and two of the bidding prayers from the booklet.  Fr. Bob Eccles O.P., assistant priest in our parish, started his homily by announcing to the congregation that he had been asked by Arn Dekker to say something appropriate about Peace Sunday. I had given Fr.Bob a copy of the booklet with the homily notes a couple of weeks prior. Afterwards, a parishioner told me he had much enjoyed the homily, he had found it very relevant and thought provoking.

We had a collection at the three Masses  for the work of Pax Christi. A Pax Christi member, usually active in the nearby  parish, but today attending Mass in our Parish, mentioned that he would be handing out leaflets with information about Pax Christi this afternoon. This will be, we believe, the first time that Our Lady and English Martyrs is taking part in some way in Peace Sunday.

From the Isle of Wight Ann Thorp reports: I hope St Thomas of Canterbury Church, Newport has collected well for PX this weekend. We gave out leaflets last weekend. Fr Emmanuel was very supportive and insisted that your retiring collection was taken while we were all sitting down still at the end of Mass; people can’t ‘escape’ so easily!

I had your peace flag up but it fell down so we draped it over a radiator at the front of church; not very visible but better than nothing.

Paul McGowan from All Souls parish in Coventry tells us that a variety of means to draw attention to the messages of the day:  several paragraphs and Bidding Prayers from the booklet  were used;  special envelopes for donations were made available;  Pax Christi leaflets and prayer cards were on offer   extracts from the Pope’s World Peace Day message were provided as part of a display on the parish notice-board.

Sr Bernie Roche is  from South East Hull, parishes of St Bedes, St Stephens and Sacred Heart.    She wrote that for the first time in years the  parish not only mentioned Peace Sunday, but was positive about the prayer cards and had a small display about Pax Christi at the back of the Church.  The parish priest used the sermon notes and bidding prayers.    People thought the sermon was very good and thought provoking, so hopefully Bernie can build on this slowly and gently.

Pax Christi stall, Liverpool Cathedral

Pax Christi stall, Liverpool Cathedral

Jan Harper reports from Liverpool:   Peace Sunday was celebrated in Liverpool at the parish of St Michael and Sacred Heart, Kensington where a special liturgy using the Pax Christi resources was used. The Pax Christi prayer card was distributed to parishioners  with the Popes peace  theme.The children’s liturgy used brightly coloured doves to write messages of peace which were  hung on the altar. In addition, Pax Christi Liverpool took a stall to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King and alerted parishioners to Peace Sunday many of whom were not aware!. They also had a stall at the memorial Peace Lecture given by Lutheran Raj Patta, this was a very inspiring talk and very humbling as Raj shared his experiences as a  Dalit. 

Permanent link to this article: http://paxchristi.org.uk/news-and-events/members-news/members-news-2017/