Tag Archives: Pax Christi Metro New York

INTERVIEW: For Pax Christi leader, peacemaking and Catholic social justice are inseparable

Interview with Rosemarie Pace, coordinator of Pax Christi Metro New York

by Sr. Camille D’Arienzo

Rosemarie Pace of Pax Christi Metro New York

Rosemarie Pace of Pax Christi Metro New York

SR. CAMILLE: You have been the face and energy of Pax Christi Metro for 14 years. What brought you into this arena?

ROSEMARIE PACE: I don’t remember when I read in The Tablet of a group of Catholics who were engaged in some kind of peace activism. Intrigued, I was curious to know more, but it was years before I inquired about them at St. John’s University, where I worshipped on Sundays. The sister in charge of the choir directed me to a Fr. Jim Reese, who taught at SJU. He was a member of Pax Christi Queens. He directed me to Elaine L’Etoile, another member of the group, who invited me to a meeting one Sunday evening in September 1987. I dragged along a friend so I wouldn’t be a lone stranger in the group. I was immediately drawn in and have been a member ever since, even though at that time, I knew nothing of Pax Christi beyond that little local group. That’s when and where my education began.

SR. CAMILLE: What do you see as Pax Christi’s challenges?

PACE: I’d put our challenges in two categories: those related to mission and those related to administration.

First, mission: Being the Catholic peace movement (so dubbed by Pope Pius XII in Pax Christi’s early history), we come up against two problems. Because we’re Catholic, there are those who have a preconceived notion about us. They may expect us to be focused on issues that are too conservative, or, ironically, others may think we’re too liberal and therefore not orthodox enough to call ourselves Catholic. Then there are those who won’t support religious organizations of any faith. Some even consider us self-righteous and elitist.

Administratively, our biggest challenge is that we are so small. We don’t have nearly enough monetary or nonmonetary resources to be on sound footing at any time. Only a couple hundred on our mailing list support us financially. Most are religious and clergy or people in modest-income service jobs. We just don’t have enough money to get us beyond a one-person staff (me) to do everything that any organization needs to survive. Our volunteers are much valued but are part-time and often temporary help. The struggle just to survive steals time from the mission of educating and advocating for peace in parishes, schools and the community…

To read the entire interview, click here.

NEWS: Pax Christi Metro New York’s Rosemarie Pace featured in new book

Rosemarie PacePax Christi Metro New York’s coordinator, Rosemarie Pace, is one of the 75 Catholics featured in the new book from Patrick McNamara, New York Catholic: Fath, Attitude and the Works!. The book is published by Orbis Books.

The description of the book states:

From St. Elizabeth Seton to Dorothy Day to Thomas Merton to Jimmy Fallon, an inspiring introduction to traditional saints and contemporary Catholics whose examples image and shape both the church and one of the greatest cities in the world.

The historical and spiritual legacy of New York City’s largest religious community comes alive in these biographies of women and men who have helped make New York and American great, and whose character and qualities are uniquely New York and Catholic.

Congratulations to Rosemarie for being recognized for her work in Pax Christi!

To order the book or see more about it, click here.

ON THE LINE: December 2014 edition highlights members and groups across the nation

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. 

VOTE FOR MARIE DENNIS FOR THE PUBLIC PEACE PRIZE BY TOMORROW NOON: Pax Christi International Co-President Marie Dennis is a candidate for the 2015 Public Peace Prize. Her profile appears on the PPP web site, Facebook and Twitter accounts through December 17 at noon, and they’ll be counting the number of visits to her page as well as “Likes” and “retweets”. Go to this link to find out how you can vote for Marie: http://publicpeaceprize.org/marie-dennis/

Pax Christi International Co-President meets with Pope Francis in October at the Vatican.

Pax Christi International Co-President meets with Pope Francis in October 2014 at the Vatican.

PAX CHRISTI MEMBERS IN SOUTH DAKOTA HOLD 6TH TAKE BACK THE SITE VIGIL: (from The Argus Leader) A group of about a dozen people huddled in a circle on the wilted grass of Sabrina White’s apartment to remember and mourn their loss. “We’re here because this is a site where violence has struck one more time in our city,” Harold Christensen of Pax Christi said. “I’m sorry for that.” They sang “Amazing Grace” while covering their lit candles to keep the bitterly cold wind from blowing them out. Twice, they paused for silent moments of remembrance, each lasting about a minute. They reflected on the violent incident that took place inside White’s residence and hoped for change. Many of the people attending the vigil sponsored by the Southeastern South Dakota chapter of Pax Christi outside the duplex where White lived at 523 S. Western Ave. didn’t know her long… Read more at http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/crime/2014/12/04/vigil-murder-victim-held-tonight/19883307/

PAX CHRISTI METRO NY COORDINATOR INTERVIEWED IN NCR: (from NCR) Sr. Camille (asks PCMNY Coordinator Rosemarie Pace): You have been the face and energy of Pax Christi Metro for 14 years. What brought you into this arena? Rosemarie Pace: I don’t remember when I read in The Tablet of a group of Catholics who were engaged in some kind of peace activism. Intrigued, I was curious to know more, but it was years before I inquired about them at St. John’s University, where I worshipped on Sundays. The sister in charge of the choir directed me to a Fr. Jim Reese, who taught at SJU. He was a member of Pax Christi Queens. He directed me to Elaine L’Etoile, another member of the group, who invited me to a meeting one Sunday evening in September 1987. I dragged along a friend so I wouldn’t be a lone stranger in the group. I was immediately drawn in and have been a member ever since, even though at that time, I knew nothing of Pax Christi beyond that little local group. That’s when and where my education began… Read the full interview at http://ncronline.org/blogs/conversations-sr-camille/pax-christi-leader-peacemaking-and-catholic-social-justice-are

Rosemarie Pace of Pax Christi Metro New York

Rosemarie Pace of Pax Christi Metro New York

PAX CHRISTI FLORIDA CO-HOSTS VIGIL FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AWARENESS: (from The St. Augustine Record) On the evening of Dec. 7 candle and solar-lantern lit vigils will take place all over the world. People are gathering to show their concern about climate change. Building on the momentum from the People’s Climate March where they mobilized tens of thousands of participants, faith groups are holding vigils in 13 countries to pray for progress towards an international agreement to address climate change. The vigils will take place as leaders are gathered for the Lima climate talks. As part of the project #LightForLima, St. Augustine will host a vigil from 8 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church. Participants are invited to gather at 7:45 p.m. “We want our leaders to hear the moral imperative for action,” said Nancy O’Byrne of Pax Christi Florida. “These vigils represent the voices of the human spirit, expressed through our religious and spiritual traditions and through many people’s personal convictions. The vigils show love and concern for our children, vulnerable people and our precious planet.”… Read more at http://staugustine.com/living/religion/2014-12-04/vigil-st-augustine-set-st-cyprians-episcopal-church#.VJCC0CvF_Cs

PAX CHRISTI MEMBERS IN SEATTLE-AREA TAKE THE VOW OF NONVIOLENCE: (from Deacon Denny Duffel) Pax Christi members in the Seattle-area will be participating in a special ceremony to take the Vow of Nonviolence with Bishop Eusebio Elizondo on December 28 from 2-4 pm. People interested in joining them can contact pc.centralseattle@gmail.com or denny@stbridgetchurch.org for more info. Join them in making a one-year commitment to strive for peace in our lives, our relationships, and our world. They also welcome those who desire to come as witnesses in support of those who take the Vow of Nonviolence.

PAX CHRISTI HOLY CROSS OBSERVES ANNIVERSARY OF JESUIT MARTYRS: (from The Catholic Free Press) The College of the Holy Cross commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Nov. 16 murder of six Jesuits, and their cook and her daughter, in El Salvador. Among commemorations at Holy Cross this week and last week was a display of crosses, with the victims’ names and photos, which the Pax Christi campus chapter set up. Associate chaplain Marty Kelly with Pax Christi members Anthony Yakely, Sloane Burns, Ozzie Reza, Mary Kate Vanecko and Risako Iida, takes students on January immersion trips to the site of the murders and other “sacred sites” in El Salvador. “We sort of walk in the footsteps of those who gave their lives as a result of their faith,” he said. Jesuit Father Philip L. Boroughs, Holy Cross president, attended commemorations in El Salvador for the anniversary.

Upcoming or Ongoing Events:

Dec. 25 – Christmas

Jan. 1 – World Day of Peace, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Jan. 4 – Feast of the Epiphany

Jan. 11 – Witness Against Torture Annual Fast in Washington, D.C.; http://www.witnesstorture.org/blog/2014/11/20/join-us-in-dc-1-5-13/

Jan. 19 – MLK Day

Jan. 23-25 – Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare, Princeton, New Jersey: http://www.peacecoalition.org/component/content/article/39-cfpa/233-interfaith-conference-on-drone-warfare.html

Quicklinks:

Sr. Patty Chappell, Executive Director of PCUSA, was quoted in this article from Catholic News Service following the release of the torture report … Monsignor Neil Connolly, associate pastor at St. Francis in New York City, is hoping to make St. Francis an official “Peace Parish,” as part of Pax Christi, the Catholic peace movement … Pax Christi Florida member Jim Rucquoi took this video of PC Florida’s Rally in Tally Against The Death Penalty … Bob Cooke and Bob More have been elected the new co-coordinators of Pax Christi Metro D.C.-BaltimoreDr. Shannen Dee Williams, one of our Advent 2014 authors, published an article holding up the lives of black women and children … Sr. Patty was featured in the newsletter of the National Black Catholic Congress in November … The new regional coordinator for Southern California is Alice Soto. Thanks to Sharon Halsey-Hoover for her years in service as coordinator … Pax Christi’s Marie Dennis and Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN spoke at the Ignatian Family Teach-in in DC in November … Pax Christi at St. Maurice Parish in Ft. Lauderdale (FL) helped sponsor a rally for the homelessPax Christi Burlington (VT) participated in a benefit concert to benefit the people of Gaza … Pax Christi International’s December 2014 newsletter is online … See more local and regional updates in the Winter 2014-15 edition of The Peace Current

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.