Tag Archives: Pax Christi Metro New York

REGIONAL EVENT: Pax Christi Metro New York’s Fall Assembly is November 8

On Saturday, November 8th, Pax Christi Metro New York will be hosting its annual Fall Assembly. This year’s theme is “The Joy of the Gospel: The Peace Passages.” Author and editor Margaret O’Brien Steinfels will be leading us in a discussion of Pope Francis’s teachings on peace as found in his inspiring encyclical, Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel. To enhance our conversation, we encourage to read “The Common Good and Peace in Society,” Chapter 4, Sec. 3, 217-237, in The Joy of the Gospel available at the Vatican website, http://w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html. Search for Evangelii Gaudium.

In addition to this stimulating afternoon presentation, we’ll have the morning to reflect on PCMNY’s very identity as a peace community. We’ll pray together, share our stories, and lend each other support.

The Assembly takes place at the Convent of Mary the Queen, 35 Vark Street, Yonkers. The full day runs from 10 AM to 4 PM, including lunch, ($35 donation) or you can come for the afternoon only from 1 to 4 PM, excluding lunch ($20 donation). Student discounts are available. Contact PCMNY to register: 212-420-0250, info@nypaxchristi.org, or www.nycharities.org. Deadline is October 31st.

REGIONAL NEWS: Pax Christi Metro NY coordinator pleased with Nobel peace prize recipients

Currents correspondent Michelle Powers speaks with Rosemarie Pace, the Director of Pax Christi New York.

TORTURE: Pax Christi Metro New York observes Torture Awareness Month

Rosemarie Paceby Rosemarie Pace
Pax Christi Metro New York Coordinator

June was Torture Awareness Month. During June, many Pax Christi groups around the country engaged in a variety of activities to honor this somber time. Pax Christi Metro New York (PCMNY) was one of those groups.

As a proud member of the Metro New York Religious Campaign against Torture (MNYRCAT), we hosted one of two MNYRCAT events to address this inhumane issue. On June 11th, four professional actors, including the PCMNY Board President, Margaret Flanagan, presented the play, If the SHU Fits, at St. Joseph’s Greenwich Village Church. SHU refers to Special (also Security) Housing Units where prison inmates are kept in solitary confinement. If the SHU Fits gives voice to several incarcerated men and women being held in isolation. They poignantly share the horrific impact of solitary confinement on their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Isolated confinement is being recognized more and more as torture by both civil and religious society, including the Catholic Church. It is also being recognized more and more as misused, ineffective, and actually harmful in many, if not most, cases. After the performance, Five Mualimm-ak, a former inmate who spent five years in isolation, spoke eloquently about the experience and the work being done by groups like the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement. He encouraged us to visit www.nycaic.org for more information and action suggestions.

no-tortureThe other event hosted by MNYRCAT during Torture Awareness Month was “Broken on All Sides,” a film presentation that examined mass incarceration, “justice,” and the “New Jim Crow.”

In addition to these two informative, heart-wrenching, and motivating events, there was one more that was at least as important. While not hosted by MNYRCAT, three of us who are members of the Steering Committee were privileged to attend an interfaith breakfast sponsored by T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and the National Religious Campaign against Torture (NRCAT). At this breakfast, the newly appointed Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction (DOC), Joseph Ponte, spoke. He came to NYC from the Maine Department of Correction where, as Commissioner, he significantly reduced the use of solitary confinement. Commissioner Ponte talked about his experience in Maine, his intimate knowledge and understanding of the prison system, and his hopes for the NYC DOC. He answered questions openly and honestly. Some of his key points follow.

Commissioner Ponte raised three fundamental questions for himself and all those involved in Correction: Why do we incarcerate? What do we do with the incarcerated? How do we keep them safe? He referred to safety as the main concern, along with care of juveniles.

He acknowledged that there was resistance to his reduction in the use of solitary confinement in Maine, but said that ultimately, due to its positive impact, resistance declined and support increased.

Commissioner Ponte went on to say that locking people up solves nothing. Blaming people is not constructive. Rehabilitation is critical. It is important to normalize life as much as possible. It is also important for outside support, like chaplains, to “show up.” And there must be sensitivity to diverse cultures and religions. Inmates need more programming to occupy their time and more positive reinforcement and incentives, rather than punishments for every little infraction.

Of course, there are some serious challenges. A primary one is the mentally ill. Some mentally ill inmates are dangerous, but not all. And, not all inmates are mentally ill. Distinguishing which is which and providing for their disparate needs is critical. A second major challenge is gangs. A third is women. Women are a challenge because they have different needs, but are generally treated the same as men. And most imprisoned women are not only criminals, but also victims. They are more likely to have mental illness, but less likely to be violent. Addressing all these variables requires tremendous skill and compassion.

Some of the attendees at this breakfast do prison ministry. To them, Commissioner Ponte advised: Communicate with the Correction Officers. Avoid being seen as an opponent or enemy.

Ultimately, Commissioner Ponte admitted that his approach to Correction in not cheap, easy, or quick. What it does seem to be is invaluable if incarcerated people are to be treated with dignity and hope for a better life outside the confines of jail or prison.

INTERVIEW: Student brings peace-building skills to her many talents

Interview with Katy Donchik
by Sr. Camille D’Arienzo

SR. CAMILLE: Katy, the head of Pax Christi Metro New York, Rosemarie Pace, presented you with its first Maloof Family Young Peacebuilder Award for the good work you do to make your world — be it at home, at school, in your neighborhood, throughout the city, our country, or overseas — a better place. That’s a lot of territory for someone so young to have traveled.

Would you please tell us what you’ve done in these far-flung places? Let’s start with the overseas experience. Did you really go to Tanzania?

Katy Donchik with Abalee, one of her students in Pommern, Tanzania, in August 2013. (NCR photo)

Katy Donchik with Abalee, one of her students in Tanzania, in August 2013. (NCR photo)

DONCHIK: Tanzania was amazing. There’s no other word to describe this experience. My family and I decided to travel there through an organization called Global Volunteers. We wanted to have a charitable vacation. We wanted to be able to experience the country of Tanzania for what it really is and not simply look at the tourist areas.

SR. CAMILLE: How did you manage that?

DONCHIK: We stayed in a small village called Pommern for three weeks. It was a village comprised of brick and mud homes and red dirt roads. (I actually still have that stubborn red dirt in the shoes I wore.) Each day, we were assigned different jobs in the morning. Those jobs ranged from constructing a new latrine for the primary school to dehorning the cattle. We worked in the schools and taught the kids English while picking up a little bit of Swahili ourselves. It was amazing being able to walk from the mission house we were staying at to the small church down the road and being swarmed by little kids asking to play ball with us…

To read the entire interview, click here.

ON THE LINE: May 2014 edition includes Stations of the Cross reports, new workshop offering, and more

Compiled by Johnny Zokovitch

Each month, “On The Line” features news items and announcements from around the nation featuring Pax Christi members, local groups, regions and partners. These are gleaned from articles in local newspapers, websites, magazines, and elsewhere.

QUICK NOTE FROM NATIONAL: The Spring 2014 edition of our newsletter, The Peace Current, was sent out several weeks ago. If you have not received a copy, it means that your membership is not up-to-date. You can renew quick and easy on the website here: http://paxchristiusa.org/join-u/. To see the PDF version of the newsletter on the website, go to http://paxchristiusa1.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/spring2014newsletter-web.pdf.

PAX CHRISTI ST. LOUIS HOSTS FIRST WORKSHOP WITH LOCAL CATHOLIC COMMUNITIES OF COLOR: (by Laura Kent) In mid-April, Pax Christi St. Louis hosted the first workshop, “We Grow Together: Catholic Communities of Color and Pax Christi USA.” The workshop is designed to bring together Catholic communities of color with members of various Pax Christi USA regions to create a community that is built on inclusivity and based on Gospel values. “If we do not count in our membership, members of the communities whom we would like to serve, then as a peace and justice organization, Pax Christi should shut down.” It was with this acknowledgement from Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA, that a group of twenty-one St. Louisans began a workshop at Cardinal Ritter College Prep in St. Louis, MO on Saturday, April 12 to learn together about Pax Christi. Participants hailed from many parishes and local organizations, all with the common cause of working for justice… Read more at http://paxchristiusa.org/2014/04/29/news-pax-christi-usa-holds-first-workshop-with-catholic-communities-of-color-in-st-louis/

Sr. Patty Chappell, PCUSA Executive Director, opens the gathering.

Sr. Patty Chappell, PCUSA Executive Director, opens the workshop “We Grow Together: Catholic Communities of Color and Pax Christi USA” in St. Louis.

PAX CHRISTI GROUPS THROUGHOUT THE NATION HOST GOOD FRIDAY WAY OF THE CROSS EVENTS: Over two dozen Pax Christi USA local groups hosted or co-sponsored a “Way of the Cross” event on Good Friday, connecting the sufferings of Christ during his passion with the suffering of our brothers and sisters at the hands of violence, greed, poverty, sickness and war. In this edition of “On The Line”, you can see photos (below) from PC Illinois and PC South Dakota participating in these events. Several groups, like PC Metro New York, received local news coverage of their events. Mohawk Valley Pax Christi in Utica, NY sent us this link to the opening reflection of their Stations of the Cross, posted on the website of the local newspaper: http://www.uticaod.com/section?template=videodetail&vid=3482951928001&vidtitle=The%20Mohawk%20Valley%20Pax%20Christi%20Outdoor%20Stations%20of%20the%20Cross

Pax Christi Southeastern SD, South Dakota Peace & Justice Center, South Dakotans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, and Just Peace held a Good Friday Noon Vigil, April 18, 2014, at the South Dakota State Penitentiary flagpole. We witnessed in prayer, song, and silence our opposition to the Death Penalty in SD. Following the prayer service, participants were given the opportunity to sign and have notarized a Declaration of Life document.

PC Southeastern South Dakota held a Good Friday Noon Vigil at the South Dakota State Penitentiary with various partners. Following the prayer service, participants were given the opportunity to sign and have notarized a Declaration of Life document. Photo by Leona Weiland.

By Nancy Oetter from the 34th Annual Good Friday Walk for Justice.  Pax Christi IL was a co-sponsor of this event organized by 8th Day Center for Justice.

The 34th Annual Good Friday Walk for Justice in Chicago. PC Illinois was a co-sponsor of this event with the 8th Day Center for Justice. Photo by Nancy Oetter.

PC METRO NEW YORK HONORS 2014 PEACEMAKERS: (from Rosemarie Pace) Pax Christi Metro New York (PCMNY) is very proud to announce this year’s honorees and to celebrate not only their accomplishments but also what they stand for. This year’s Peacemakers are exceptional in their commitment to end gun violence, abolish nuclear weapons, advocate for Palestinian rights, and serve the poor and needy. They stand strong in their resolve to offer compassionate alternatives inspired by their values and beliefs. On Sunday, June 1st, Pax Christi Metro New York (PCMNY) will be paying tribute to Sandy Hook Promise; Maryknoll Sister Jean Fallon; and The Carmelite Commission for Peace, Justice, and the Integrity of Creation… Read more at http://paxchristiusa.org/2014/05/08/regional-news-pax-christi-metro-ny-honors-2014-peacemakers/

PC MASSACHUSETTS INCLUDES REFLECTION FROM DEATH ROW INMATE IN STATIONS OF THE CROSS: (from Pat Ferrone) Members of Pax Christi Massachusetts co-sponsored the annual Stations of the Cross in front of the Boston Statehouse on Good Friday. Station 11 was the presentation of a piece written by a man with whom PC-MA state coordinator Pat Ferrone has been communicating for the last 1.5 years. Marc James Asay has been on Death Row in Florida since he was 23, and is now 50. You can read his reflection at http://paxchristiusa.org/2014/05/05/reflection-living-in-the-shadow-of-death/

2104 march madness 217Pax Christi Long Island member Jacqueline Jill Rito brought a small group of students to Italy recently, covering Rome, Florence and Assisi for Holy Week 2014. She snapped this photo (to the left), writing that “the inspirational feeling and word in Rome regarding ‘the people’s Pope’ was palpable – witness this drawing on a street-sign advertisement across from Castel Sant’Angelo, just down the street from St. Peter’s Basilica.” Thanks for sharing!

Upcoming or Ongoing Events:

May 15 – International Conscientious Objection Day, http://paxchristiusa.org/programs/conscientious-objection/

May 17 – Pax Christi Metro D.C.-Baltimore’s annual assembly, “From Just War to Just Peace in the Age of St. Francis,” http://www.paxchristimetrodc.org/2014/04/register-now-annual-assembly-may-17-at-gonzaga-college-high-school/

May 23 – Global Day of Action to Close Guantanamo, http://paxchristiusa.org/2014/05/13/take-action-may-23rd-is-global-day-of-action-to-close-guantanamo/. Pax Christi USA is an endorser.

May 29 – National Call-in Day for Justice for Immigrants, http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/index.shtml; Pax Christi USA is an endorser.

June – Torture Awareness Month, http://www.tassc.org and http://www.nrcat.org/

June 3-14 – On the Road to Ground the Drones action in Illinois and Michigan, http://paxchristiusa.org/2014/04/29/drones-on-the-road-to-ground-the-drones-action-june-3-14/

June 27 – Momentum 2014 Event in D.C., http://paxchristiusa.org/programs/momentum-2014/

June 29-July 3 – Starvin for Justice: Fast and Vigil to End the Death Penalty, http://www.abolition.org/fastandvigil/; Pax Christi USA is an endorser.


PC Southern California recently showed Brave New Films’ new movie, “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars,” and shared that its producers would very much like to have viewings at other Pax Christi events. If your region or group is interested, contact Tim Molina at timothy@bravenewfoundation.orgLeona Wieland and members of the Southeastern South Dakota Chapter of Pax Christi hosted a “Take Back the Night Vigil” at the site of a recent murder in Sioux Falls … You can watch the 2014 Vanderhaar Symposium, in honor of PCUSA Ambassador of Peace Gerry Vanderhaar, at this link on YouTubePittsburgh-area Pax Christi hosted PCUSA Ambassador of Peace John Dear earlier this week to talk about nonviolence … Read Pax Christi Metro New York’s Easter reflection … Check out the new video from Campaign Nonviolence … PC Texas member Dave Atwood wrote this reflection about his friendship with a young man on death row … Pax Christi International’s May 2014 newsletter is online … See more local and regional updates in the Spring 2014 edition of The Peace Current

REGIONAL NEWS: Pax Christi Metro NY honors 2014 peacemakers

Rosemarie Pacefrom Rosemarie Pace
Pax Christi Metro New York coordinator

Pax Christi Metro New York (PCMNY) is very proud to announce this year’s honorees and to celebrate not only their accomplishments but also what they stand for. This year’s Peacemakers are exceptional in their commitment to end gun violence, abolish nuclear weapons, advocate for Palestinian rights, and serve the poor and needy. They stand strong in their resolve to offer compassionate alternatives inspired by their values and beliefs.


On Sunday, June 1st, Pax Christi Metro New York (PCMNY) will be paying tribute to Sandy Hook Promise; Maryknoll Sister Jean Fallon; and The Carmelite Commission for Peace, Justice, and the Integrity of Creation.

Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) formed as an organization after the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, 2012, that claimed the lives of 20 first graders and 6 educators. Community members, parents, and spouses who lost loved ones joined together to turn their grief into a force for good by finding collaborative ways to prevent the causes of gun violence and to support their heart-broken community. By focusing on our love for all our children, SHP has found a constructive way to rise above the battle between gun control and gun rights. Using education, dialogue, parent empowerment, and legislative action, support for mental wellness and family assistance, SHP is moving us all toward saner and safer gun policies.

Sister Jean Fallon has been a Maryknoll sister since 1947. Much of her ministry was conducted in Japan where she worked in parishes and as part of the Peace and Nuclear Issues Committee of the National Council of Churches, Japan. Sr. Jean also taught in World Awareness Adult Education Programs in the U.S., acquainting Catholics with world poverty and its impact on the most vulnerable. She took Scriptural, Ecumenical and Peace Studies in Jerusalem in the 1990s and returned to the Middle East as a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams in the 2000s, serving in Hebron, Palestine. Sr. Jean has also been a member of the Maryknoll Sisters NGO at the U.N. and continues her peace and justice activities today as a member of the Maryknoll Sisters CenterCerns Committee at Maryknoll, New York.

The Carmelite Commission for Peace, Justice, and the Integrity of Creation (PJIC) is dedicated not only to serving those living in conflict situations, those being exploited by discriminatory policies, and those negatively affected by environmental crises, but it is also devoted to helping to bring about the necessary changes in society that make such services obsolete. Among their many ministries, PJIC has addressed issues of immigration reform, human trafficking, prison life, hunger, and climate control. It performs these good works at the local levels of parishes, schools, and programs, and it participates with the Carmelite NGO at the U.N.

In addition to honoring these remarkable Peacemakers, PCMNY will also be recognizing two Young Peacebuilders from local Catholic high schools whose awards were presented to them a Youth Days in the Brooklyn Diocese and Archdiocese of New York earlier this Spring.

The awards ceremony will take place in Casserly Hall below St. Joseph’s Greenwich Village Church, Washington Place just off Sixth Avenue, on Sunday, June 1st between 3 and 6 PM. There will be delicious refreshments, beautiful music, and numerous prizes. Recommended donations: $40 per person or $125 for four through May 16th, $50 per person or $165 for four between May 16th and May 23rd, $25 at all times through May 23rd for those 18 years old and younger. Advance registration required.