REFLECTION: Pentecost and Berrigan, a double portion of God’s Spirit

schenkby Christine Schenk, NCR

Pentecost is far and away my favorite feast in the liturgical year.

My first real sense of God’s Spirit came as a young child. On summer mornings, before anyone else awakened, I would steal outside to gaze in fascination as freshening breezes blew through the tall oak, elm and catalpa trees that lined our slumbering street.

pentecost-artI sensed a secret presence there for which I had no name. Something sacred, beautiful, and gloriously alive was at work in our world.

While I have occasionally wondered if this experience was a throwback to my archetypal German reverence for the sacredness of trees (!), I now intuit that something greater is afoot.

Something ineffable, gentle and completely beyond our control saturates all of creation — me, you, and all that is....

To read this entire article, click here.

TAKE ACTION: Today is the National Day of Prayer for the Wendy’s Boycott

from the Alliance for Fair Food

[NOTE: Pax Christi USA has signed on as a supporter of this effort.]

download

The farmworker-led Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has launched a national boycott of Wendy’s in response to the fast food company’s decision to reject the Fair Food Program, a worker-designed, proven human rights program that is preventing violence, wage theft, sexual assault, and slavery in the Florida tomato industry and beyond.  As news breaks that Wendy’s has moved its tomato purchases from Florida to a supplier in Mexico where slavery was uncovered in 2013, farmworkers and consumers around the country are responding to express their deep dismay.

In preparation for Wendy’s Annual Shareholder Meeting, join thousands of people of faith around the country for a Wendy’s Boycott National Day of Prayer on Monday, May 23.  Acting on our faith that calls us to justice, together we pray that Wendy’s executives will do what is right by farmworkers in their supply chain…

Click here to take action today.

TEACHER OF PEACE: And the 2016 Teacher of Peace is….

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Art Laffin, long-time Catholic Worker, peace activist, named 2016 Teacher of Peace

Pax Christi USA honors Laffin for his personal witness to peace and justice

Art Laffin of the Dorothy Day CW and Pax Christi Metro DC at the march.

Art Laffin, the 2016 recipient of Pax Christi USA’s Teacher of Peace Award.

Washington, D.C.— Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement, has recognized Art Laffin, a long-time Catholic Worker based in Washington, D.C., as the 2016 recipient of the Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award. Laffin’s selection hearkens back to the original recipient of the Teacher of Peace Award, first given to Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, in 1978. Since then, Pax Christi USA has recognized some of the most significant U.S. Catholic activists for peace and justice of the past 4 decades, including actor Martin Sheen; poet and priest Daniel Berrigan, S.J.; and Dead Man Walking author Sr. Helen Prejean, C.S.J.

“We are excited to name Art Laffin of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, D.C. as the recipient of the 2016 PCUSA Teacher of Peace Award,” stated Cathy Woodson, Chairperson of the National Council of Pax Christi USA. “Art’s long-standing commitment to the peace of Christ has led him to champion the causes of peace, economic justice, and racial justice. He has worked to end the death penalty and the manufacturing of nuclear weapons. His life is a true example of what it means to ‘teach peace’.”

Art Laffin at Ash Wednesday service in front of the White House.

Art Laffin at Ash Wednesday service in front of the White House.

Laffin has been an organizer, writer and speaker in the faith-based
movement for peace and justice for over 30 years. He has taken part in Plowshares actions, led regular protests at the Pentagon, participated as a member of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation in their Journey of Hope anti-death penalty speaking tours, spoken internationally on numerous issues, and lived among and served the impoverished and marginalized people living in our nation’s capitol.

“I believe [Laffin] … exemplifies the theme ‘to reach peace, teach peace,’ and demonstrates an intentional and sustained effort to challenge and transform racist and sexist attitudes and actions,” wrote Stephen Kobasa in his supporting nomination of Laffin. “[A]fter his decades of advocacy against nuclear weapons, participation in Plowshares actions, international advocacy against the death penalty, countless acts of non-violent civil disobedience against weapons makers, oppressive governments, and on behalf of human rights, witness against racism and sexism in both church and society, life as a believer in a Catholic Worker community located at the center of this country’s institutional madness, writer for journals and newspapers on all aspects of the Catholic social justice tradition, a husband and parent … It is time.”

“I greatly value and am immensely thankful to Pax Christi USA for all that it has done to proclaim the peace of Christ in our world. I am deeply humbled and honored to be nominated, let alone selected, for this special award,” stated Laffin. “Throughout my journey of peacemaking I have tried, however imperfectly, to follow our crucified and risen Savior! Whatever I have been able to do and accomplish I attribute to God’s mercy and amazing grace, the loving steadfast support I have received from my family, and the example of numerous friends whom I have had the privilege to pray, live, serve and resist with, as well as the poor and the victims I have been blessed to accompany. Living in a perilous time where all of life and creation is endangered, I remain committed to and inspired by Jesus and the cloud of witnesses, who beckon us to live and proclaim God’s reign of love, justice and peace.”

The Teacher of Peace award will be presented to Laffin at the Pax Christi USA National Gathering in Linthicum, MD in August. For a full list of this year’s nominees, click here.

For more information or requests for interviews, please contact Johnny Zokovitch, Pax Christi USA’s Director of Communications, at 352-219-8419 or jzokovitch@paxchristiusa.org.  

ISRAEL-PALESTINE: Tell Congress to support Palestinian children’s rights

from the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy

3rd Thurs graphicNOTE: Pax Christi USA is a member of the Faith Forum. This is the “Third Thursday for Israel-Palestine” action for May. 

Urge your representative to sign the McCollum letter asking President Obama to appoint a Special Envoy for Palestinian children.

An April 2016 report from Defense for Children International – Palestine states:

Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) collected affidavits from 429 West Bank children detained between 2012 and 2015 that show three-quarters of them endured some form of physical violence following arrest. In 97 percent of the cases, children had no parent present during the interrogation or access to legal counsel. Israeli police also did not properly inform them of their rights in 84 percent of the cases.

This mural in Aida Refugee Camp in the Occupied West Bank lists children killed in Israeli's Gaza offensive in July 2014.

This mural in Aida Refugee Camp in the Occupied West Bank lists children killed in Israeli’s Gaza offensive in July 2014.

DCIP statistics show that at the end of February, there were 440 Palestinian children in Israeli military detention. Seven of these children were being held under administrative detention, meaning they could be held without charges or trial indefinitely.

We need to act on behalf of these most vulnerable members of society, and we have an opportunity to do just that. Minnesota Representative Betty McCollum has initiated a letter to President Obama, asking him to appoint a Special Envoy for Palestinian children.

Take action today!  Click here and ask your representative to add their name to this important letter.*

Palestinian children living under occupation face crippling daily realities as well as dim prospects for their future – a situation that has fueled an escalation in violence in recent months. As the letter states, “The recent attacks against Israelis, including those perpetrated by Palestinian youth, are profoundly disturbing and must be condemned…At the same time, the root causes of such violent acts must be examined and understood within the context in which they are taking place. Does a life of utter hopelessness and the collective psychological trauma associated with the Palestinian people living for decades under Israeli military occupation directly contribute to the violence?”

Act now to provide for a more hopeful future.  Click here and contact your representative today.*

* Thanks to the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns for taking action through their advocacy program.

NEWS: Pax Christi USA releases annual report for 2015

Below is the letter from our Executive Director Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN, which opens the 2015 Annual Report. To see the entire 2015 Annual Report, click here

Sr. Patty ChappellDear Friends of Peace & Justice-the Pax Christi USA Family,

As your Executive Director, I am pleased to submit this Annual Report to you as a summary of our 2015 activity. I am especially pleased, on behalf of the National Council and staff, to tell you that we had a very, very good year.

Pax Christi USA logoIn past Annual Reports I have, unfortunately, had to tell you of difficult times we faced financially, which, of course, had impact programmatically because we weren’t able to do things we had hoped to do. My goal in 2015 was to reverse this trend and I am pleased to tell you that in 2015 we began the process of stabilizing our finances to such an extent that we have gone from a deficit budget to a small surplus – in just one year. This has allowed us to concentrate more on being a leader in the effort to bring peace with justice to our country and the world, always with our work centered in Catholic Social Teaching.

Here are some of the highlights of our year:

  • From a fundraising perspective, we have begun to put systems in place for raising the money we need to be more effective. In 2015, for example, we budgeted to raise $8.52 and in fact raised $134,668.28 – a 100% revenue over expenses. We did that by becoming much more intentional in communicating with our donors, especially our Major Donors, and by asking them to support us at higher levels. We began to emphasize Membership as a central way to mobilize and fund our organization. For our members, we budgeted to raise $76,675. In fact we raised $105,957. In FY2014 we had 3,671 members and in FY 2015, we have 3,855 members and our membership continues to see signs of growth.
  • We completely retired our debt to Pax Christi International. We are proud members of Pax Christi International and know that we must support them with our monthly assessment. As of result of financial restraints in the past, we had fallen behind on our assessment to the tune of $75,000. Thanks to the generosity of one of our major donors, we completely paid off what we owed to our International Office.
  • We called or visited every single major donor to the organization. I personally flew to the Midwest to meet with several of our donors and all of them increased their already generous gifts to Pax Christi USA.
  • We were advised to send our direct mail appeals to people who had supported us in the past but had stopped supporting us. This raised the number of year-end appeal letters we sent out from 3,617 to 9,000. I am pleased to tell you that for the Christmas appeal, for which we expected $25,000, we actually raised $46,467 and we expect even more to come in from that appeal in January.
  • Much of this success also was due to stabilizing our databases. We now know who our friends are and are able to better communicate with them.

This financial stability progress has resulted in remedying a situation we have desperately needed to for some time. We are able in 2016 to again have all our full-time employees working 40 hour weeks and we are able to provide a stipend for health insurance. Pax Christi USA needs a full-time staff. Once again, now, we are almost there.

Our work in the financial area is not done however. We still need to improve in some areas and I commit to you that we will do this in 2016 to further take us on the road to stability.

We have had a good year together my friends. And the future is looking brighter than ever thanks to the fabulous National Council you have assembled under the leadership of Cathy Woodson and the great staff that can once again give its full attention to our work. Look in 2016 for several new initiatives from the council, including taking a harder look at our structure to make us all more effective, and the national office providing more service to our regional offices and local chapters.

We look forward to continuing our work together to one day see that goal of a peaceful and just world realized.

With gratitude and hope,

Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN
Executive Director

Click here to read the entire 2015 Annual Report.

REFLECTION: You are to be my witnesses

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

I really did read those letters from all of you and I found them very inspiring because you seem to understand what’s really important about the Sacrament of Confirmation, that you are committing yourself now for the rest of your life to continue to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, baptized, confirmed, strengthened regularly by the Holy Eucharist and also by your own daily prayer. Each of you seem to find that an important thing to include, that you have come to know Jesus better through your preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation. I do have that sense that you’re truly ready, but it’s important that we reflect a little bit further on the Scriptures and on this feast that we’re celebrating, the Ascension of Jesus into heaven.

pskovpecheryascensioniconThe first thing that I think is important about the feast day and what we are being taught about the feast day is not exactly when the Ascension happened. It’s important for all of us to realize that the Gospels are not a history book. They don’t follow the life of Jesus like we might do if we were writing history, or even if we were writing a biography of Jesus. But the Gospels do, and the other New Testament Scriptures like the letters of Paul and so on, teach us about Jesus — who he is, why he came, what he did. They don’t try to give us a chronological teaching about his life. In fact, if you listen to the Gospels carefully, you’ll discover, when you listen to the Gospel of John about Easter Sunday, when Jesus came back to the disciples Easter Sunday night, it was then that he breathed on them, gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit, and then left them for good.

It wasn’t 40 days later. Luke puts that into his Acts of the Apostles because in the early days of the church, the Christians thought Jesus was going to come back very quickly and that he would restore the reign of God in its fullness; but it wasn’t going to happen. By the time Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles in the 80s, it was pretty clear that Jesus wasn’t coming back anytime soon. And so, Luke puts into the Acts of the Apostles the story about how they gathered together outside of Jerusalem and then he’s lifted up to heaven. The angels come down and tell the disciples, “What are you looking up there for? He’s gone.” That wasn’t how it really happened, but the important thing is what we learn in one of the letters of St. Paul about what this meant.

What happened is described in this letter of Paul to the church at Ephesus. He tells us, “God revealed God’s almighty power in Jesus when he raised Jesus from the dead and had him sit at his right hand in heaven, far above all rule, power, authority, dominion, or any other super natural force that could be named, not only in this world, but in the world to come. Thus God has put all things under the feet of Christ, set him above all things as head of the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”...

To read the entire article, click here.