Sr. Mary Evelyn Jegen was a shining beacon who illumined the world of peacemaking with wisdom, humility and an indomitable spirit. Her writings opened the eyes and hearts of peacemakers around the world and advanced an understanding of peacemaking as a gospel imperative of the Catholic faith. She had an amazing ability to analyze the signs of the times and respond to them from a place of deep faith. Each time we spoke during my years as national coordinator, I was aware that I was in the presence of the woman who blazed the trail for all future national coordinators to walk. She offered me gentle encouragement and always a prophetic word of wisdom based on her reading of the signs of the times. Sometimes she called when we were hard at work planning the national assembly, and she would recite from memory the locations of each national assembly down through the years and note that she had attended almost all of them, oftentimes by bus. Her presence at the national assemblies was an example of her unwavering commitment to Pax Christi and a sign of her belief that the strength of Pax Christi was found in its members uniting around a common vision and a shared passion for peace.
During one of Pax Christi’s moves, we turned to Sr. Mary Evelyn’s words to bless the new space we were moving into. “Our vocation is to make visible God’s own response to violence,” she wrote. “It is God who wants to express love, justice, mercy and forgiveness in us. Making God’s love visible means inventing ways to let others know that we really care about them, will really labor for their happiness.”
Sr. Mary Evelyn labored long and hard for the happiness of all God’s children. May she now rest in the peace of Christ that was at the heart of her vocation.