Pax Christi USA attended March for Our Lives events including the Candlelight Vigil March 23 and the official protest March 24.

Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, Program Director’s experience of the Candlelight Vigil:

Cathedral 3“Last night, I (representing Pax Christi USA) was one of the 2,000 people that packed the National Cathedral of the Episcopal Church in DC, for a very moving Candlelight Vigil welcoming the young people from FL who are demanding changes in gun laws.  We heard from victims, families and survivors of gun violence as well as pleas for hope and action.

Most poignant was the stark question posed by a number of speakers:  Where are you when our young African American women and men are gunned down as senselessly as the students in FL and elsewhere? Why are not their lives as important as yours? Are we not all sisters and brothers? At first the crowd was hushed and then erupted in affirmation in the truthfulness of the challenge.

There were at least 10 clergy persons who offered prayers, challenges and blessings on this occasion. As too often experienced in DC and elsewhere…conspicuously absent was the Catholic presence.  In my mind and heart NO excuse suffices for this lack of neglect and injustice on the part of our institutional church.”

Rachel Schmidt, Communication Coordinator’s experience of the March for Our Lives:

IMG_2923“I was beyond impressed with the student speakers. Nadia Wadler, 11 years old and gifted at speaking, said, “I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential.” I was awed by her eloquence and inspired by her message.

Emma Gonzalez, 18 years old, and a Marjory Stoneman Douglas senior spoke for a couple minutes and then went fiercely silent. She stood with a penetrating stare and tears streaming to illustrate the six minutes and 20 seconds it took for 17 of her classmates to be shot. It was the most powerful silence I’ve witnessed.

It’s easy to have hope in the youth, and I’m grateful for the hope these kids have given me. However, it’s a real wake up call. Who am I here to be? How am I called to serve? And am I doing it?

IMG_2919To nonviolently commit to one’s beliefs strongly and publicly is a scary thing. It’s a risk. My adult concerns and anxieties can cloud my perception and limit my influence to create good.

Jesus said we must “become like children” (MT 18:3). Today I want to be like Nadia and Emma, speaking or not speaking from a place of truth and deep meaning and committed to the service of humanity without concern of the real or perceived risk.”

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