We pray for Pax Christi Members and Friends who have died and are now resting in the peace of God…
Remembering David John and Margot Williams
Sue Leighton-Boyce remembers David and Mariane who died this year.
Both David and Margot were life long Pax Christi supporters or at least for as long as I knew them both in Stroud where I moved to in 1984/5. Both were also the best Christians I have personally known.
Margot became a very close friend because we were always together in the various local organisations we supported. Two like minded catholic women – one 20 years my senior so she helped my “education” in catholic history and what it was like to be brought up in a very privileged catholic tradition whereas I was an adult convert. I was so impressed with her social work experiences first in adoption work and later in the mental health emergency duty team in Gloucestershire. For such a small woman she was scarily unafraid and spoke her mind as a norm. She was devoted to her family offering considerable support as it was required for long term health reasons. Her faith was strong even though we had much debate on matters in the church and hierarchy attitudes to women and minorities. I could talk with her about anything and she shared my family life as a close valued friend. I loved her and miss her almost as much as my own Mother.
I was not close to David in the same way but I was very aware of the gentle peaceful aura he had about him. Such a special man. He wore sandals and had a beard so to my young daughter he reflected the closest person in real life to how she imagined Jesus would be. He also believed in everyone having their story and took time to really listen whatever their background. I well believe his son Simon saying that it became normal to have unexpected guests invited to share their meals. David welcomed everyone and listened and remembered the important things. I once gave a short talk on “a sense of place” to church members prior to re-ordering our church. It lasted only 30 minutes or so but he remembered it and reminded me of it in later years. I was interested in his religious projects and visited the studios often where I also saw his wife Marianne’s paintings. He had a piece commissioned for a bronze statue for a Cathedral of the Poor in Mejorada del Campo and took his models to Spain to show them. They chose another design to the one I liked and so before he died he gave me the model he had made all those years earlier. I will never meet anyone so artistically talented as I don’t mix in those circles but the combination of talent with deep faith was impressive beyond comparison.
Stroud is a different place for me without these two treasures.
Remembering Lynette Mary Decker (1947-2022)
Lyn served on the Pax Christi Executive and was a deeply committed peacemaker, contributing – with her husband Arn – much to the work of Pax Christi and to that of peacemaking in her local area in Cambridge. Lyn produced the beautiful designs for our Nativity Trio Christmas Cards that started life as felt banners made for St Laurence’s parish, Cambridge. Lyn died on 4th November after a long illness. May she Rest in Peace.
Remembering Malcolm Green (1949-2022)
Malcolm regularly attended Pax Christi’s London events and had a strong commitment to Justice and Peace. You can read of the many facets of his life in this appreciation which Lauri Clarke delivered at his funeral.
Remembering Tony McNicholl (1942-2022)
Tony was an enthusiastic and committed Pax Christ member and took part in the Peace Sunday online service only months before his death.
A full obituary of Tony, Justice-and-Peace Worker and Man of God is available here.
Remembering Bruce Kent (1929-2022)
Peace activist, Bruce Kent, was Vice Chair of Pax Christi and played an important part in its work. Find a fuller account at Remembering Bruce Kent
Remembering Pat Robb, CJ (-21/5/22)
We are sad to hear of the death of Sr Pat Robb at the age of 85. An tireless campaigner for justice and a recipient of the Pax Christi Peace Award in 2005. At the time she received the award, she was serving on the chaplaincy team at Oakington Detention Centre for asylum seekers. Sr Pat campaigned against the arms trade, speaking up at arms manufacturers’ shareholder meetings and had been chair of the East Anglia Diocese Justice and Peace Commission. In earlier years she had worked in Africa, where she had worked with survivors of the Rwanda genocide. She is remembered in Independent Catholic News.
A tribute to Sr Pat written by Sr Gemma Simmonds appeared in Independent Catholic News (14/6/22) giving detail of her adventurous life.
May she Rest in Peace.
Remembering Sue Scott (-22)
Sue Scott, who died recently, was a member of St Dunstan’s Parish, Kings Heath, Birmingham.
For many years she worked tirelessly to support Pax Christi and other peace and justice issues in the parish. Sue was always a source of information about the activities of Pax Christi to which she was very committed and we have cause to be grateful to her for keeping its spirit alive in our church.
A pilgrimage to Palestine, with Pax Christi in 2015, left a deep impression on her and on her return Sue organised an evening to share her experiences. She then involved herself in a local group, set up to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by the Palestinians and to support those working for peace with justice. This included organising vigils and holding a stall for Palestine in the monthly farmers market.
Sue had a great empathy for those less fortunate than herself and initiated the collection of clothes and food at St Dunstan’s for distribution to refugees at St Chad’s Sanctuary.
She will be missed by many and by the various groups which have benefited from her help.
Gill Myall and Miriam Wilcher
Remembering Thích Nhâ’t Hanh (-2022)
Thích Nhâ’t Hanh who died at the age of 95 on 22 January was an advocate of ‘engaged Buddhism’ and a peace activist. His booklet Be Still and Know has long been popular with Pax Christi Members and is still available from the Pax Christi shop.
His obituary is available on the Independent Catholic News website.
Remembering Sr Pamela Hussey (1922-2021)
Anyone who heard Sr Pamela Hussey speak – radical words in her cut-glass accent – on the lives of women of El Salvador will have been moved and challenged. Ian Linden, former Director of the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR) pays tribute to her on Independent Catholic News.
Remembering Stewart Hemsley
Those who met Stewart during his time with Pax Christi could rarely forget him. Perhaps you remember him wearing sackcloth on the many Ash Wednesday liturgies he attended at the Ministry of Defence. Or it could be that you remember Stewart carrying a banner bearing a powerful call to peacemaking, beautifully created by Anne, his wife. You may even have seen him rushing about Cambridge where he lived, on his scooter. Stewart had a great presence and lots of energy!
He came to Pax Christi in the early 2000s. Already active in Cambridge with Stop the War, he was attracted to the Christian peacemaking of Pax Christi during the months following the 9/11 attacks. He spoke on Pax Christi’s behalf at meetings in Cambridge. In the run-up to the 2003 US/UK invasion of Iraq he joined Fr Owen Hardwicke on a speaking tour in the United States, offering solidarity to ecumenical groups struggling to stop the Bush administration rush to war. In 2004 he took on the role of Chair of the Pax Christi Executive Committee, making himself available to the office team, joining in Pax Christi International gatherings in the USA, Germany and Belgium and engaging in peace actions around nuclear weapons, the arms trade and drone warfare. In 2005 he took up an invitation to monitor elections in Palestine where he met Jimmy Carter and shared a room with Jeremy Corbyn! At the same time, he offered support to Cambridge Women in Black, a group to which Anne belonged for many years, often joining their vigils.
His great sense of humour, combined with his deep knowledge of scripture and skills in oratory, meant that Stewart was never shy of speaking out and speaking up for peace and nonviolence at meetings and events. At their home in Cambridge they always offered warm and welcoming hospitality to members of the Pax Christi network. Stewart’s term as Chair came to an end in 2010.
Stewart and Anne were moved to a care home during 2020/21 and sadly, Stewart died on 7 December 2021.
by Pat Gaffney