Kelly to receive honor the week of the tenth anniversary of 9-11 at the Catholic University of America

Colleen Kelly, 2011 Teacher of Peace

Washington, D.C.—Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement, has recognized the life and witness of Colleen Kelly, naming her the 2011 recipient of the Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award.  Pax Christi USA first gave the award to Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, in 1978 and has since recognized some of the most significant U.S. Catholic activists for peace and justice of the past 3 decades, including actor Martin Sheen; poet and priest Daniel Berrigan, S.J.; and Dead Man Walking author Sr. Helen Prejean, C.S.J.  Kelly is one of the founding members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.

Kelly’s brother Bill was at a breakfast conference at Windows on the World and was killed during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Inspired by decades of non-violent response to deadly conflict, Kelly met several other like-minded family members in December 2001. This group of people who experienced first-hand the tragedy and loss of 9-11 eventually formed September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, which took its name from the Martin Luther King quote, “Wars make poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.” The group has over 200 family members and has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace prize.

“At a time when our nation needed models for how to deal with our grief and anger, Colleen and the members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows showed us how to do so—seeking our own healing by committing ourselves to the work of making a more peaceful and just world for all,” stated Ronaldo Cruz, Acting Executive Director of Pax Christi USA.

In January 2003, Kelly joined a person-to-person Peaceful Tomorrows delegation to Iraq to learn about the conditions facing civilians in the aftermath of two wars, sanctions, and the threat of new military action there. For the fifth anniversary of 9-11, Peaceful Tomorrows hosted more than thirty family members of victims of political violence from around the world who had consciously chosen to respond nonviolently. Participants included atomic bomb survivors; families affected by violence in Bali; Beslan, Russia; Madrid; Chile; Algeria; Rwanda; South Africa; Uganda; and Israel/Palestine. This new international group committed to support families recently affected by the loss of a loved one, and to channel grief to break cycles of violence.

“As the tenth anniversary of 9-11 approaches, we cannot think of more apt way to remember that day than by honoring the work of Kelly as one of the founding members of Peaceful Tomorrows,” stated Sr. Josie Chrosniak, HM, Chair of Pax Christi USA’s National Council. “Her response to the loss of her brother on 9-11 stood in stark contrast to the response of our elected leaders. She showed all of us, how, faced with the biblical question of choosing life or choosing death, even in the shadow of the terrible evil of that day, we can respond by choosing life and peace.”

Kelly will be honored at the Pax Christi USA-sponsored event, “Peace and Reconciliation: Spiritual Reflections a Decade After 9-11,” featuring best-selling author Jim Wallis, on September 8 at the Catholic University of America.

For media interviews or for more information, please contact Johnny Zokovitch, Pax Christi USA’s Director of Communications, at 352-219-8419 or

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