Tag Archives: Pax Christi Texas

ON THE LINE: June 2014 edition includes election results, death penalty activism, peace award, 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 results of the National Council election are in and we’re pleased to announce that Jean Stokan and Sr. Rose Marie Tresp, RSM have been elected as new members of the council, and current vice-chair Cathy Woodson was re-elected to another term. Additionally Edward Martinez and Cynthia Morris-Colbert have been added to the council to fill appointed positions. Also, the Constitutional amendments passed and will be incorporated into PCUSA’s constitution.

Nick and Mary Eoloff

Nick and Mary Eoloff

GIVING THANKS FOR THE LIFE OF LONG-TIME MEMBER NICK EOLOFF: (by Florence Steichen, Pax Christi MN) Veterans, peace-makers and workers for justice, people of Guatemala and Palestine, and countless others lost a dear friend and faithful supporter when Nick Eoloff, 84, died May 24 in St. Paul. Nick Eoloff was a veteran of the U.S. Navy Reserves. Nick married Mary Lou Bunting December 26, 1955; they are the parents of six children, 14 grandchildren, and one great granddaughter. Among their many works for peace, Nick and Mary adopted Mordechai Vanunu, in 1996 when Mordechai was serving an 18 year prison term in Israel for revealing the existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons program. They visited him in prison, corresponded with him, and enlisted friends to write to Mordechai. Mary and Nick last saw Mordechai in 2005, after his release from prison in 2004, and have remained in contact. Mary phoned when Nick died, and knew that Mordechai could not come to Nick’s funeral because his freedom of movement is severely restricted even though he finished his sentence 10 years ago… Read this entire article at http://paxchristiusa.org/2014/06/04/obituary-remembering-long-time-pax-christi-usa-member-nick-eoloff/

PAX CHRISTI FLORIDA HOSTS WORKSHOP FOR CATHOLIC COMMUNITIES OF COLOR, PCF MEMBERS: (by Johnny Zokovitch) On Saturday, May 17, over 30 participants gathered at Barry University for the 4th in a series of workshops entitled, “We Grow Together: Pax Christi USA and Catholic Communities of Color,” hosted by Pax Christi Florida. Members of the Archdiocese’s Office of Black Catholic Ministry, leaders from several parishes, Pax Christi local group coordinators and state council members, and Pax Christi USA National Staff members were present for the all-day workshop which included overviews of Catholic Social Teaching and the priorities of Pax Christi USA, presentations on the corrective histories of African Americans and Latino/as in the Church, and sessions employing social analysis and planning for next steps… Read more here http://paxchristiusa.org/2014/05/19/news-pax-christi-florida-hosts-we-grow-together-pax-christi-usa-and-catholic-communities-of-color-workshop/

Participants in the "We Grow Together" workshop held at Barry Universiry in May and hosted by Pax Christi Florida.

Participants in the “We Grow Together” workshop held at Barry University in May and hosted by Pax Christi Florida.

PAX CHRISTI PHOENIX WITNESSES AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY: (from John Zemblidge) Pax Christi-Phoenix continues to witness to the nonviolent Christ in opposition to the death penalty in Arizona. For several years our chapter has sponsored prayer vigils on the eve of executions along with Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona and the Arizona Ecumenical Council. We traveled to Tucson in February to attend Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona’s annual meeting. An ongoing relationship has ensued between Pax Christi member Margaret McChesney and death row inmate Frank McCray. Several Pax Christi members continue to visit prisoners in Maricopa County Jail who are facing prosecutions that may result in sentences of death. Long-time members Inge Casey, Dan Peitzmeyer and Bob Basque continue to work tirelessly in addressing forums and meetings of other organizations involved in the abolition movement. On May 15, our chapter hosted Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery where we dialogued and discussed the death penalty in a peaceful and present manner. On May 18, Pax Christi-Phoenix participated in a peaceful prayer vigil outside the Phoenix Downtown Sheraton where the National Association of the Boards of Pharmacy will hold their annual meeting. Abolitionists view pharmacists as allies in the effort to stop executions. With the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma on April 30, states like Arizona that use compounded drugs from non-corporate pharmacies face increased scrutiny.

PAX CHRISTI MEMPHIS HOSTS DAY-MERTON PLAY: (from Janice Vanderhaar) St. Patrick’s Church in downtown Memphis will collaborate with Pax Christi Memphis in presenting the two-hour play “Pilgrims and Prophets of Peace: Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton” written and performed by Pax Christi Southern California leaders Sharon and David Halsey-Hoover on Friday, June 20, 2014. There will be an informal meet-and-greet at 6:30 to welcome guests from the Dorothy Day House of Hospitality, Memphis Theological Seminary, and local congregations. For more information, see http://www.paxchristimemphis.org

Pax Christi USA staff Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN and Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN join other PCUSA members in calling for teh closing of Guantanamo.

Pax Christi USA staff Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN and Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN join other PCUSA members in calling for teh closing of Guantanamo. Photo by Ted Majdosz at http://photobyted.smugmug.com/CloseGuantanomo/Not-another-broken-promise-not/i-8GWTt5S

BISHOP ALEMANY SENIOR WINS PEACE SCHOLARSHIP: (from Sharon Halsey-Hoover) Earlier this month, Pax Christi Southern California recognized its choice for the Pax Christi Southern California Student of the Year Award. This year’s recipient is Eddie Motta, a senior and member of Pax Christi Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills, CA.  The award includes a $250 scholarship to the college of his choice.

Donald Levan, Sharon Halsey-Hoover, award recipient Eddie Motta, and David Hoover of Pax Christi Southern California.

Donald Levan, Sharon Halsey-Hoover, award recipient Eddie Motta, and David Hoover of Pax Christi Southern California.

PAX CHRISTI LOS ANGELES REACHES OUT TO LOCAL HIGH SCHOOLS: (from Sharon Halsey-Hoover) On Wednesday, May 12 Pax Christi Los Angeles held an informational meeting with four local high schools about Pax Christi and the starting of high school groups on their campuses.  Another six schools responded that they could not attend but would like more information. At the meeting, clips from the Pax Christi video were shown and Fr. Chris Ponnet, from Pax Christi Los Angeles, and Don Levan, from Bishop Alemany High School, spoke about the mission of Pax Christi and of how a group could add focus and opportunity to their attempts to address social justice concerns. In addition to the four Directors of Campus Ministry there were eleven students in attendance. After the meeting the attendees joined in the parish noon liturgy and then shared lunch. It was wonderful to experience so much interest in Pax Christi and in the desire for peace and nonviolence.

Pax Christi Los Angeles leadership share lunch with area directors of campus ministry and student leaders.

Pax Christi Los Angeles leadership share lunch with area directors of campus ministry and student leaders.

Upcoming or Ongoing Events:

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 DC, 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.

July 18-20 – Annual Peacemakers’ Retreat with PCUSA Teacher of Peace Elizabeth McAlister and Frida Berrigan, in Pardox, NY, http://www.pyramidlife.org/programs/


Pax Christi Long Island member Nancy Dwyer had a letter published in Newsday on gun violence … Pax Christi Texas is asking all PCUSA members to keep Mac and Joyce Hall, long-time members, in your prayers. Mac is struggling with cancer and may not be with us much longer, writes Dave AtwoodPax Christi Hartford (CT) hosted Catholic Worker Cathy Breen this week to speak about her experiences working with Iraqi refugees … Long-time Pax Christi USA member Paul Magno has the opportunity to attend the War Resisters International meeting in South Africa in early July and help popularize what the Plowshares movement is about to an important international audience. Paul is raising funds to be able to attend. If you want to support him, contact him at pmagno@igc.org … The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns has published a new newsletter, “Encounters: A Newsletter on Faith, Economy and Ecology.” Click here to see the latest edition and information on how to receive it … Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace Eric LeCompte met with Pope Francis last month on behalf of the global Jubilee movement … Pax Christi International’s June 2014 newsletter is online … See more local and regional updates in the Spring 2014 edition of The Peace Current

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

REFLECTION: Dominique – lessons in forgiveness

dave-atwoodby David Atwood, Pax Christi Texas and Founder of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

If I ever had a doubt about my work to abolish the death penalty, that doubt came to a crashing halt when the State of Texas executed Dominique Green, a young African-American man from Houston, on October 26, 2004.

I had been visiting Dominique on Texas Death Row for many years. When I first visited him, he was an angry young man – angry at his mother and father, angry at society, and angry at the criminal justice system that sent him to death row. But over the years, I saw him change. He forgave his mother who had abused him as a child and caused him to leave home and live on the streets of Houston. He forgave the gang members who had pointed to him as the person who had pulled the trigger that sent Andrew Lastrape to his grave during a robbery in Houston. He forgave everyone in his life whom he felt had failed him in some way.

Dominique Green

Dominique Green

Dominique became educated and grew to be a man in prison. In addition to myself, several people from Italy, including several members of the Sant’ Egidio Community in Rome, visited and wrote him on a regular basis. His interest in forgiveness came in part from reading Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s book No Future Without Forgiveness. He wanted to meet Tutu and this was made possible by well-known author, Thomas Cahill, who knew the Archbishop. After Tutu visited Dominique on death row, he spoke to the press and stated that Dominique was a “wonderful advertisement for God….I was very humbled to be in his presence because I felt to be in the presence of God…(Dominique) is not the monster that many would expect or think, but a human being, a human being that has grown…He’s like a flower opening and you see the petals coming up, particularly when he is speaking about his concern for others…He is a remarkable young man and it would be the greatest of tragedies if someone like Dominique was executed.”

Dominique not only forgave the people who had hurt him, he also taught other prisoners on death row that they should forgive the people who had hurt them. This extraordinary transformation caused Thomas Cahill to write a book about Dominique that he titled A Saint on Death Row .

As Dominique’s execution approached, his appeals attorney, Sheila Murphy of Chicago, asked if I could locate the family of Andrew Lastrape in Houston and ask them if they wanted Dominique to be executed. When I located the family, Bernatte Lastrape and her two sons Andre and Andrew, they all gave a resounding “no” to the question of the execution. They wanted to give Dominique a second chance at life. Bernatte actually wrote to Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and asked them to spare Dominique’s life. Bernatte wrote, “All of us have forgiven Dominique for what happened and we want to give him another chance at life. Everyone deserves another chance.” Perry and the Board refused to do so, showing the hard-heartedness of the politicized Texas criminal justice system. As the execution date got closer, Andre and Andrew traveled to death row with me to meet and reconcile with Dominique. It was a most extraordinary experience. When Andre came out of prison, he said, “Texas is going to put a righteous person to die like an animal, putting him on a table, strapping him up, putting those needles in his arms, putting him to sleep. We’re not dogs. We’re human beings just anybody else. He’s a human being just like me, just like you.”

Andre and Andrew also attended the vigil outside the execution chamber at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, Texas, to protest Dominique’s execution. I was inside the prison attending the execution of a man who had transformed his life and had a lot of wisdom to share with society. It was very painful experience to see Dominique die before my very eyes. Before the execution, Dominique made me promise that I would fight against the death penalty until it was abolished. His last words to his friends as he lay on the execution guerney were, “Thank you for your love and support…I have overcome a lot…I am not angry but disappointed that I was denied justice….But I am happy that I afforded you all as family and friends…..You all have been there for me…It’s a miracle…I love you…Thanks for allowing me to touch so many hearts….I never thought I could do it. ”

After the execution, we held a funeral for Dominique in Houston. Then my wife and I took his remains to Italy. The Community of Sant’ Egidio built a monument to his memory in Rome.

Guilty or Not?

Dominique was one of four boys who robbed Andrew Lastrape in Houston in October of 1992. He was the youngest of the four boys and the three older boys pointed the finger at him as the person who shot Lastrape during the robbery. Dominique always maintained that he was not the shooter. What I found most distrurbing about the legal proceedings was that Dominique was the only one to get the death penalty. Two of the other African-American boys in the gang got prison sentences and the one white boy in the gang did not go to prison at all although he was involved in the robbery. It appeared to me that Dominique’s legal representation had been very poor and he had been railroaded to death row.

Lessons Learned

Through my years visiting Dominique and other men on death row, I have learned many things about how the death penalty is applied in Texas. First of all, our criminal justice system is imperfect. Several innnocent people have been sentenced to death. Many factors enter into whether someone is sentenced to death or not, including the quality of the legal defense, the race of the offender and the victim, and where the crime takes place. Poor people are at a great disadvantage when it comes to avoiding capital punishment in Texas because they simply do not have the funds to hire the best defense attorneys. The death penalty is truly “arbitrary and capricious” despite attempts to improve the criminal justice system.

Second, I learned that rehabilitation in prison often occurs, but means nothing to the politicians who run the system. Mercy and clemency are almost unknown qualities in Texas. Dominique was a prime example of this, but several other rehabilitated people such as James Allridge have been executed in Texas.

Third, many families of victims do not want the death penalty for someone convicted of capital murder. The Lastrape Family is a wonderful example, but there are many people like them. They know that an execution will not bring back their loved one nor bring them the healing that they desperately want and need.

Fourth, the death penalty does not deter others from committing violent crime. I have been told this by several death row prisoners and professional studies have shown this to be true. However, what might reduce violent crime in society are more effective crime prevention measures. Many people on death row were horribly abused and neglected as children and many have untreated mental disabilities. The millions of dollars wasted on the death penalty could be better used to actually prevent violent crime as well as help the victims of crime.

A Higher Road

Although Dominique Green was involved in a crime where an innocent man was murdered, his transformation in prison has a lot to offer society. His ability to forgive, and the ability of the Lastrape family to forgive, are excellent models for society. Just because someone kills, we as a society don’t have to kill in return, and we should not. We can choose a more enlightened response, a higher road, that involves forgiveness, rehabilitation and the wise use of taxpayers’ dollars.

Dominique’s Legacy Lives On

Many people would be surprised that a death row prisoner, one that had been executed, would leave a legacy. But Dominique Green definitely has left one. He taught many people, including other death row prisoners, the importance of forgiveness. He showed people that prisoners, even those on death row, can change and contribute to society. And he motivated me to continue the fight against the death penalty until it is finally abolished. Without his example, I may have given up trying to abolish the death penalty in Texas for it is, indeed, difficult work. But in Dominique’s memory, I will never give up.

ON THE LINE: March 2014 edition includes groups trying to repeal the death penalty, raise the minimum wage, stop deportations!

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.

PAX CHRISTI SOUTH DAKOTA MEMBERS WORK FOR REPEAL OF DEATH PENALTY: (from Leona Weiland) As the South Dakota House State Affairs committee met to discuss the death penalty, PC South Dakota members worked on the repeal effort, including circulating this letter to their elected officials: On behalf of five chapters of Pax Christi in South Dakota, we follow Pax Christi USA in stating that we follow the non-violent Jesus. The international Catholic peace movement, from the Latin for “peace of Christ,” began after WWII. We focus on issues central to Gospel values of life, love, truth and justice. In our prayer, study and actions, we respect the gift of life given by God who teaches that all life is sacred, from beginning to natural death. Following the example of Jesus in the Gospels, we commit ourselves to God’s way of caring with compassion, forgiveness, mercy and love. Please note our attached Statement for Repeal of the Death Penalty in our state and the many who have signed in support of it.


PC South Dakota members at the Capitol, taken the morning before the Committee Meeting for the Repeal of the Death Penalty. (photo courtesy of Leona Weiland)

PC-NEW JERSEY LEADS IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ACTIONS ON ASH WEDNESDAY: (from NorthJersey.com) With Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty as their backdrop, dozens gathered at Liberty State Park on Wednesday to kickoff a series of vigils, protests and rallies across New Jersey designed to urge the United States government to halt detentions and deportations of immigrants who live illegally in the country.  The events, organized by the Catholic organization Pax Christi New Jersey and scheduled to coincide with Ash Wednesday, came a day after President Obama presented a proposed budget that would set aside additional funds for immigration enforcement. With the 2 millionth deportation looming under the Obama administration, and after Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives said they will likely not bring immigration reform to a vote this year, advocates acknowledged they face an uphill battle… Read more at http://www.northjersey.com/news/Immigrant_groups_rally_at_liberty_state_park_against_deportations.html

Pax Christi New Jersey members protesting deportations. (photo courtesy of NorthJersey.com)

PC New Jersey members protesting deportations. (photo from NorthJersey.com)

Sr. Karen Nykiel OSB

Sr. Karen Nykiel, OSB of PC Illinois (photo by Tom Cordaro)

PC ILLINOIS MEMBER MODERATES PRESS CONFERENCE FOR RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE: (by Tom Cordaro) On March 6th, prior to International Women’s Day, seven women religious leaders from Chicago and the Western Suburbs gathered in Naperville, Illinois to call for an increase in the minimum wage. The event was held in conjunction with press events around the country organized by Interfaith Worker Justice – a leader in the fight for economic and worker justice in the U.S. since 1996. Moderating the event was Sr. Karen Nykiel, OSB, a member of Pax Christi Illinois, a chapter of Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement. Sr. Karen set the context of the event stating, “We are focusing on women at this event because more than 64%– almost two-thirds — of minimum wage workers are women.”… Read more at http://paxchristiusa.org/2014/03/12/regional-event-women-of-faith-call-for-raising-the-minimum-wage/

PC FLORIDA JOINS CLEAN WATER EFFORT: (by Carol Ann Breyer) Citizens  and environmental  activists from around Florida gathered on the steps of the historic Old Capitol in Tallahassee on February 18 to demand legislative action to protect and restore Florida’s  endangered  springs, rivers, and bays. About 200 people attended the gathering for “Florida’s Clean Water Declaration” campaign that was launched last year after toxic algae blooms appeared in the Indian River Lagoon… Six Pax Christi Florida members and supporters from South Central and Southwest Florida were present at the event. Karen Dwyer spoke emphatically about the drilling threat in the Naples area which has been challenged by Pax Christi members. In 2013, Pax Christi participated in the effort to secure signatures for a proposed Constitutional Amendment on Water and Land Conservation that would dedicate finds to acquire and restore Florida conservation and recreation lands.

PCF Council Members, Carol Ann and Lee Breyer (right of podium) at Clean Water Rally at Florida State Capitol. (photo courtesy of PCF).

PCF Council Members, Carol Ann and Lee Breyer (right of podium) at Clean Water Rally at Florida State Capitol. (photo courtesy of PCF).

Upcoming or Ongoing Events:

March 5-15 – Coalition of Immokalee Workers “Now is the Time” tour, http://ciw-online.org/blog/2014/01/time-is-now-schedule/

March 14-16 – Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space conference in Santa Barbara, CA, http://www.space4peace.org/actions/gnconf_2014.htm

March 21-24 – Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C. Theme is “Jesus Weeps: Resisting Violence, Building Peace” with John Dear, http://advocacydays.org/

March 22 – PC Southern California regional assembly, “A Call to Nonviolence: One Year with Pope Francis,” with keynote speaker Ted Smolich, S.J., at Loyola Marymount University, http://www3.paxchristisocal.org/

March 24 – Archbishop Romero assassinated, 1980

March 27 – Vanderhaar Symposium with Malik Yakini in Memphis, TN, http://www.gvanderhaar.org

March 28-29 – Friends of Sabeel North America Conference in Philadelphia, http://www.fosna.org/content/philadelphia-conference-march-28-29-2014

March 29 – PC Michigan State Conference, “Christian Nonviolence: The Great Failure, the Only Hope,” with Fr. Charles Emmanuel McCarthy; at Cristo Rey Parish, Lansing, MI, http://www.paxchristimi.org/#!pcm-2014-annual-conference/c6oh

March 29-30 – PC Florida Annual Retreat, “Nonviolent Resistance” with Jim Douglass, at Dayspring Episcopal Conference Center in Ellenton, FL; http://paxchristiflorida.org/events/

March 30 – PC-New Jersey is co-hosting “Remembering Archbishop Romero” from 2-5pm, at Saint Peter’s University; contact psantoro@saintpeters.edu for more information

March 31 – Cesar Chavez Birthday

April 5-6 – Pax Christi Texas State Conference, “Christian Peacemaker Teams: Peacemaking in Palestine,” followed on the 6th by the regional dialogue at the Dominican Center for Spirituality in Houston, http://paxchristiusa.org/programs/regional-dialogues-2012-13/

April 14-18 – Holy Week Pilgrimage with the Norfolk Catholic Worker and Hampton Roads Pax Christi that will stop at 14 area military bases in the Hampton Roads, VA area, the most militarized place on the planet; contact Steve at williamsbaggarly@gmail.com for more info

May 3 – Regional Dialogue with Pax Christi Metro D.C.-Baltimore, http://paxchristiusa.org/programs/regional-dialogues-2012-13/


In tribute to Marie Parmly, long-time Pax Christi USA member who lives in Florida and is celebrating her 90th birthday this year, her friends have set up a special fund in her name, “Tribute to Marie Parmly.” To give to this special fund, go to PCUSA’s “Donate” page and scroll down … In February, PC Los Angeles, PC Orange County, and PC Southern California co-sponsored with Holy Family Parish in South Pasadena a book signing event with John Dear to help launch his new book … Plowshares activist Joe Gump passed away earlier this week. Read the archived article in the Chicago Tribune to learn more about Joe’s actions in the 1980’s. Pax Christi USA gives thanks for Joe’s life and witness! … Support the #LetUsThrough Thunderclap on March 18  in response to the Syrian refugee crisis … John Dear’s father passed away in late February. You can see the obituary here … Check out Pax Christi International’s new blogPax Christi USA’s founding bishop-president, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, was featured in a column in The Toledo Blade recently … If you have high schoolers, you may be interested that PCUSA member Ellen Finnigan will be teaching a course this summer through Kolbe Academy called “The Hunger Games and Christian nonviolence” … The Coalition of Immokalee Workers are touring through some Pax Christi-rich states over the next few days. Check out the tour info and join them if you can … Pax Christi International’s March 2014 newsletter is online … See more local and regional updates in the Fall 2013 edition of The Peace Current