INTERVIEW: For Pax Christi leader, peacemaking and Catholic social justice are inseparable

Interview with Rosemarie Pace, coordinator of Pax Christi Metro New York

by Sr. Camille D’Arienzo

Rosemarie Pace of Pax Christi Metro New York

Rosemarie Pace of Pax Christi Metro New York

SR. CAMILLE: You have been the face and energy of Pax Christi Metro for 14 years. What brought you into this arena?

ROSEMARIE PACE: I don’t remember when I read in The Tablet of a group of Catholics who were engaged in some kind of peace activism. Intrigued, I was curious to know more, but it was years before I inquired about them at St. John’s University, where I worshipped on Sundays. The sister in charge of the choir directed me to a Fr. Jim Reese, who taught at SJU. He was a member of Pax Christi Queens. He directed me to Elaine L’Etoile, another member of the group, who invited me to a meeting one Sunday evening in September 1987. I dragged along a friend so I wouldn’t be a lone stranger in the group. I was immediately drawn in and have been a member ever since, even though at that time, I knew nothing of Pax Christi beyond that little local group. That’s when and where my education began.

SR. CAMILLE: What do you see as Pax Christi’s challenges?

PACE: I’d put our challenges in two categories: those related to mission and those related to administration.

First, mission: Being the Catholic peace movement (so dubbed by Pope Pius XII in Pax Christi’s early history), we come up against two problems. Because we’re Catholic, there are those who have a preconceived notion about us. They may expect us to be focused on issues that are too conservative, or, ironically, others may think we’re too liberal and therefore not orthodox enough to call ourselves Catholic. Then there are those who won’t support religious organizations of any faith. Some even consider us self-righteous and elitist.

Administratively, our biggest challenge is that we are so small. We don’t have nearly enough monetary or nonmonetary resources to be on sound footing at any time. Only a couple hundred on our mailing list support us financially. Most are religious and clergy or people in modest-income service jobs. We just don’t have enough money to get us beyond a one-person staff (me) to do everything that any organization needs to survive. Our volunteers are much valued but are part-time and often temporary help. The struggle just to survive steals time from the mission of educating and advocating for peace in parishes, schools and the community…

To read the entire interview, click here.

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