On Friday, September 7 at Trinity University in Washington, D.C., Pax Christi USA held its annual Momentum event recognizing Ruben Garcia with the Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award for 2012 and featuring a keynote presentation on “The Challenge of Peace” by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton. Bishop Gumbleton was surprised with an additional recognition from Pax Christi USA honoring his lifetime of service to our movement and his witness to gospel nonviolence.
In his acceptance of the 2012 Teacher of Peace award, immigration activist Ruben Garcia of Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas, stated, “I accept this recognition because of the immigrants who have been my teachers of peace,” going on to say that it is in their name and the names of all those who have worked and volunteered at Annunciation House that he accepts the recognition from Pax Christi USA.
Garcia talked about the plight of immigrants today, including how U.S. policies affect the situation in their home countries, driving many to seek refuge in this country. He said that immigrants in the U.S. have every right to say, “I’m here because of you, I belong here, and you need to make room for me.”
The theme of the evening was “The Challenge of Peace,” and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton was the featured speaker. Bishop Gumbleton eloquently recalled the life and witness of Joshua Casteel, a former soldier turned conscientious objector, who died just over two weeks ago. He cited Joshua’s conversion to the message of Christ and the need for Pax Christi USA and other Catholic peace activists to reach out to young people with the message contained in the U.S. bishops’ 1983 peace pastoral.
“It’s the task of Pax Christi USA to once more look at that pastoral–The Challenge of Peace–and to teach it to our young people… It is time to bring back its message once again and look at how comprehensive it is,” Bishop Gumbleton said. “We need to recapture that enthusiasm, that determination, that commitment (to peace) once more.”
He stated that we have been in a state of perpetual war since 1991.
“We think we can solve problems quickly and conclusively with violence, but it doesn’t work. [War] kills thousands of innocent people then goes on damaging those who have done the killing.”
The evening began with a welcome from Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA, and Marie Dennis and Bishop Kevin Dowling, Co-Presidents of Pax Christi International.
“I welcome you and I hope that you recognize the great gift we are to each other as we meet the challenge of peace,” Bishop Dowling told those present.