On Friday night, 200 Pax Christi USA members and friends gathered at the Columbus Convention Center for Pax Christi USA’s annual gathering at the SOA. This year’s presentation was entitled, “Gun Violence Has No Room in the Spirituality of Peacemaking,” with presentations from Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Kathy Kelly and Pax Christi USA Executive Director Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN.
The evening started with a welcome from Cathy Crosby, former member of the Pax Christi USA National Council, and Carole Lacour of Pax Christi Atlanta, with both serving as the emcees for the evening.
“Pax Christi USA members have been coming to the vigil and action here at the School of the Americas from the very beginning, and for 13 years now, we’ve been gathering like this, on Friday evening, to deepen our witness to peace, to celebrate the gifts of our movement, and to encourage each other for the challenges that lie ahead,” stated Lacour.
The evening included prayer, music from Joe Jencks, presentations from Sr. Patty Chappell on the domestic ramifications of gun violence and from Kathy Kelly on the implications of gun violence around the world, a question and answer period with our speakers, and more.
The evening ended in prayer, which included a quote from Jon Sobrino, one of the Jesuits who survived the 1989 massacre. In his book, A Theology of Solidarity, Fr. Sobrino wrote:
“Solidarity is another name for the kind of love that moves feet, hands, hearts, material goods, assistance and sacrifice toward the pain, danger, misfortune, disaster, repression or death of other persons or a whole people. The aim is to share with each other, to help rise up, to become free, to claim the human dignity and justice that all people are entitled to…”
On Saturday morning, around 20 leaders from Pax Christi USA’s local groups and regions joined Sr. Patty in a discussion about the work they were engaged in and plans for Pax Christi USA’s future. Leaders from NY, CA, FL, DC, MD, VA, TX, LA, GA, OH, IL and elsewhere were present.
Pax Christi USA members joined in the 30th anniversary celebration of the action Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Fr. Larry Rosebaugh and Linda Ventimiglia took the first direct action against the SOA, climbing a tree outside the barracks and blasting the final sermon of Archbishop Oscar Romero from a boom box. Hundreds of members of Pax Christi USA joined the thousands who participated in the funeral procession on Sunday, as well as the workshops throughout the weekend. Pax Christi USA was well-represented also by presenters in workshops throughout the weekend, including the participation of Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace Fr. John Dear, S.J., former national staff person Jean Stokan, Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Kathy Kelly, and others.