Marmete Hayes, co-founder of Pax Christi Burlington
Marmete Hayes, co-founder of Pax Christi Burlington (VT)

The following information was sent to us from Sr. Miriam Ward who has been Marmete’s caregiver over the past few years. Marmete was an extraordinary woman, a real prophet of peace and an inspiration to so many of us. All of us at Pax Christi USA mourn her passing and celebrate her life. ~ Johnny Zokovitch, Director of Communications, Pax Christi USA

Marguerite Corliss Hayes, better known as Marmete, one of the founding members of Pax Christi Burlington in Vermont, passed away on June 17 after a courageous 3-year battle with cancer. Sr. Miriam Ward, her close friend and care-giver was at her side. Marmete taught religious education and spoke at parishes across Vermont about religious customs in the home. She was inspired by Dorothy Day, the Catholic Worker and the Berrigan brothers, and had a lifelong journey working for peace and justice. In 1981, she cofounded a new chapter of Pax Christi in Burlington, promoting peace and justice and addressing issues such as violence, nuclear weapons, oppression in Central America, the U.S.-led wars in Iraq, and the School of the Americas. She stood with many others for years in nightly silent vigil at the top of Church Street in Burlington as a steward of peace during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2006, the Vermont Dismas House honored Marmete and Sister Miriam Ward with the Jack Hickey Award for their peace activism. In 2009, the Peace and Justice Center awarded Marmete with the Ed Everts Award for Peace and Social Justice. (From Marmete’s obituary in The Burlington Free Press. To read the entire obituary and leave a message of condolence, click here.)

At Marmete’s funeral, her eulogy was given by her granddaughters, Liz Pratt Hansen and Erin Bray Gibson. Below is an excerpt from the eulogy:

“When I asked people how they would describe my grandmother, Marmete Hayes, many words were offered:  peace activist, community organizer, justice and human rights advocate, devotee of Jesus and his teachings, as well as devoted wife, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother and friend.  Within our family she was most certainly the keeper of traditions and our benevolent and loving matriarch.

When thinking about what I wished to say today, so many things came to mind as Marmete Hayes was not only my grandmother, but one of my dearest friends. Therefore, I’d like to share some of the things that made my grandmother so special to us… Instead of lullabies, we sang Advent songs, chanted peace march slogans such as, “Money for jobs, not for war, US out of El Salvador!,” and were inspired by the lives of her heroes, such as Oscar Romero and Dorothy Day… Instead of trips to the playground, we joined her to march for peace on the streets of Burlington, Montpelier and Boston, and to stand in silent vigil to protest the devastating consequences of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead of hearing about vacations in sunny climates, we heard about her yearly trips to Fort Benning, Georgia, to speak out against the human rights violations perpetuated in Latin America by many graduates of the School of the Americas. No, a traditional grandmother she was not.  But she was inspiring, fascinating, passionate, interesting and surely unique.  And I’ve yet to meet anyone else who can say that their grandmother was arrested along with Martin Sheen for standing up for what she believed in…”

Mosaic by Marmete Hayes
Rooted in faith and reflecting on the loss of her dear husband Jack, Marmete saw in the stones on the beaches of Butler Island a medium to express her faith and love creatively. She formed mosaics that evoke images of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels as well as early Christian symbols which she dedicated to the memory of Jack. This one is called “Resurrection.”

One thought on “OBITUARY: Marmete Hayes, co-founder of Pax Christi Burlington, Vermont

  1. still thinking of Marmete and PaxChristi and now Oscar Romero as we need courageous people to speak out against war and sending weapons to Ukraine, and for peace and negotiations…

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