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,
Pax 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.