Pax Christi brings peace message to Olympic celebrations

21st May 2012 - by Ellen Teague

Bishop Malcolm McMahon & Anne Dodd
Pax Christi president Bishop Malcolm McMahon & Chair Anne Dodd

The Columban JPIC (Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation) office ran a stall at Pax Christi’s AGM last Saturday in Bristol.

Pax Christi reported great interest from schools in Westminster, Southwark and Brentwood dioceses in the ‘100 days of Peace’ initiative which is building a peace legacy based on the ancient idea of an Olympic Games’ peace truce. Pax Christi’s General Secretary Pat Gaffney, announced that a vigil of prayer to launch the start of the ‘100 days’ will be held on 8/9 June at St. Martin in the Fields Church in London’s Trafalgar Square. In addition, the Pax Christi ICON of Peace, made in the Monastery of St John in the Desert near Jerusalem, will be circulating around parishes in a ‘Circle of Peace’, praying for peace during the Olympic period. Pax Christi’s ‘Peace Party Pack’ (£20) can be used for summer celebrations, including the Queen’s Jubilee, and contains such items as peace bunting, badges and ideas for events which involve marginalised groups. 

Around 75 participants at St. Nicholas of Tolentino Church at Easton heard Pax Christi President, Bishop Malcolm McMahon of Nottingham Diocese, who celebrated mass with the group, described as “an ally and friend”. He was applauded for recently appointing a new Justice and Peace worker in his diocese, and Pax Christi thanked the Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales for “warm collaboration” over January’s Peace Sunday celebration. Appreciation was expressed to Youth and Schools worker Matt Jeziorski for outreach work in 14 dioceses over the past year, the push to encourage Catholic Schools to become members of Pax Christi, and retreats held in several universities.

 
A lively discussion ensued after Bruce Kent, Pax Christi’s vice-president, raised the issue of Justice and Peace within Church structures, as many people present said they were dismayed that redundancy proceedings had been set in motion against Shrewsbury Diocese Justice and Peace worker Joan Sharples, a long-standing partner of Pax Christi and known to many present. A letter valuing her “terrific” work will be sent to Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury from Pax Christi. The National Justice and Peace Network, of which Columban JPIC is a member, has already sent a similar letter. Julian Filochowski, Chair of the Archbishop Romero Trust, highlighted the importance of strengthening the Pax Christi network “in the spirit of Vatican II”. Encouraging more parishes to celebrate Peace Sunday in January 2013 and building up the use of social media were amongst ideas discussed.

Pax Christi UK, which is part of Pax Christi International, was described as “acting well beyond its real capacity, with only three staff members and an annual budget of around £210,000”. Anne Dodd, the current chair, said that this was only possible because of the work and commitment of individual members around the country. She described as “fantastic” the welcome given to people from around Britain by the parish priest and community of St. Nicholas of Tolentino Church. Fr Richard McKay said that his inner city parish comprises people of more than 60 nationalities, with significant Zimbabwean and West African communities. He reflected that much of the parish’s pastoral work was built around the issue of migration. “We welcome Pax Christi members for many in our congregation have suffered the brokenness caused by conflict” he said “and then when they come here our terrible asylum system terrorises people all over again”.

Useful links:

Pax Christi – www.paxchristi.org.uk

www.peacelegacy.org.uk/

New resources on ‘100 Days of Peace’ from Redemptorist Publications
Your journey to peace booklet:
www.rpbooks.co.uk/product_details.php?item_id=1525
Children’s Peace Activity Sheet
www.rpbooks.co.uk/product_details.php?item_id=1526