In the nearly five decades of Pax Christi USA’s history, at key moments we have identified and honored extraordinary and experienced leaders within the Pax Christi USA community and commissioned them to represent our movement through ongoing outreach efforts. These “Ambassadors of Peace” are chosen for the contributions they have made in preaching and practicing gospel nonviolence, peacemaking, reconciliation and justice.
Ambassadors of Peace promote the mission of Pax Christi USA through word and witness, sharing our programs and campaigns with new audiences, serving as our representatives in coalitions, and generally carrying the message of Pax Christi USA wherever they go. They serve as living embodiments to our community and beyond of what it means to live a life rooted in the “peace of Christ”.
New Ambassadors of Peace have often been commissioned to mark significant moments in our history. The Pax Christi USA National Council has chosen to recognize four new Ambassadors of Peace as we stand on the cusp of our Jubilee, our 50th anniversary, to be celebrated in 2022. The new Ambassadors of Peace are:
- Phyllis Jepson
- Adrienne Alexander
- Donna Grimes
- Tom Cornell
Tom, Donna, Adrienne and Phyllis will be commissioned at the 2021 National Conference, Saturday, July 31st, as part of our closing Mass. Read more about our 4 new Ambassadors of Peace below and join us at the National Conference in giving thanks for their witness and encouragement for their work ahead on behalf of the entire Pax Christi USA community.
Phyllis Turner Jepson of West Palm Beach, FL is a long-time peace activist and member of Pax Christi USA. She has served as the coordinator of Pax Christi Palm Beach and Pax Christi Florida and also served on PCUSA’s National Council. In 1996, Phyllis was hired by the national office to serve as coordinator and later director of Local/Regional Development. From 2004-2006 she assumed the position of PCUSA’s Program Director. During her ten years at the national office, Phyllis and her husband, Milton, traveled across the country visiting all of PCUSA’s regional offices and many of their local chapters. She also traveled to Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp on peace missions. Phyllis was instrumental in establishing Holy Ground PBC, a non-profit shelter program for homeless, pregnant, and parenting young mothers and their children in Palm Beach County where she has served as Executive Director. Phyllis currently serves on the regional council of Pax Christi Florida. She has been married to her husband for 56 years, has three grown children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Read the PSA Phyllis did for Mother’s Day 2011, starting a Pax Christi USA tradition for every Mother’s Day since.
Adrienne Alexander of Chicago, IL: Adrienne grew up in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, though she’s called a number of Black Catholic parishes in other dioceses home before settling in Chicago with her family. She is a former member of the Pax Christi USA National Council, a past speaker at Pax Christi USA National Conference, and promoter of student and young adult organizing within Pax Christi USA. Adrienne has made her career working as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for AFSCME Council 31, a (mostly) public sector labor union in Illinois. She currently serves on the boards of Arise Chicago & Catholic Labor Network.
Listen to Adrienne in the podcast, “Your struggle is my struggle: Black and Latinx Catholics agree that our lives matter”. Or read a version of the podcast in this column.
Donna Grimes of Washington, D.C. is a former member of the Pax Christi USA National Council. She has authored PCUSA’s book of Advent reflections for 2005 entitled, Tell Us About the Times When Jesus Came, All God’s People: Catechizing in a Diverse Church (Loyola Press 2017), and was a regular writer for Halleluia People for Eat the Scroll Ministry, a Black Catholic adult evangelization ministry. Ms. Grimes worked for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2000 to the present in social justice education with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church, staffing the Subcommittee on African American Affairs. She is a JustFaith facilitator, catechetical leader and served on several parish, archdiocesan and community boards in Washington, D.C.
Read this interview with Donna from 2012 by Mary Liepold of Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore.
Tom Cornell of New York is a long-time Catholic Worker, beginning with the CW in 1953. He was one of about a dozen people present at the meeting in July 1972 known as the “Pax Christi Affiliation Discussion” which gave birth to Pax Christi USA. Tom also served as one of Pax Christi USA’s first National Council members beginning in 1976, and has been a speaker, mentor and guide to numerous Pax Christi USA members, regions and local groups for many years. He served as managing editor for The Catholic Worker newspaper from 1962-64 and has been part of Peter Maurin Farm in Marlborough, New York, a house of hospitality for the formerly homeless and for men recovering from addiction or struggling with physical or mental impairments. He is a co-founder of the Catholic Peace Fellowship, serves on the executive committee of the Dorothy Day Guild, and has been a deacon since 1988.
Read Tom’s reflection, “Talking Pope Francis and Dorothy Day,” delivered at Pax Christi Hudson Valley’s Mass for Peace in 2013.