Annie Killian reflects on the recent PCYAC retreat
This Sunday (June 26, 2022), the Thirteenth in Ordinary Time, we read of the prophet Elijah throwing his cloak over Elisha, whom he will anoint as prophet to succeed him (1 Kings 19: 19-21). The prophetic mantle offers a beautiful image for reflecting on the Pax Christi Young Adult Caucus’ 2022 retreat, “Building Paths of Peace Together.” On June 10-12, 14 peacemakers in our 20s and 30s traveled from 10 states to gather at the Stuart Center in Washington, D.C. The retreat, five years in the making, was a joyful time for prayer, collective action, and building community.
A highlight of the weekend was the intergenerational dialogue on Saturday morning. Ten members of Pax Christi USA from the D.C. area joined the retreatants for a conversation about our joys, challenges and hopes as nonviolent peacemakers. Over half of the young adult participants only discovered Pax Christi in the past two years over Zoom, so this was the first opportunity for most of us to meet in person and connect with the larger Catholic peace movement. What a gift to dialogue with the folks whose mantles we are taking up. Their decades of justice work and prophetic witness are our inheritance.
You’ll notice in the Sunday reading that Elijah throws his mantle over Elisha, but he doesn’t yet relinquish it. Instead, the veteran prophet and the newly appointed one spend time together, partnering in works of mighty deeds. This partnership was not only for Elisha’s benefit; Elijah, too, received grace through their companionship. Remember, Elijah had been on the verge of despair when he sought God on Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19: 14). Fearing for his life, he wanted to be released from his divine mandate. Instead, God assigned a few more tasks – and also selected for him a helper. Bringing Elisha into the work reenergized Elijah and strengthened his fidelity.
I hope that the Young Adult Caucus, by building intergenerational partnerships with longtime Pax Christi folks, will help to revitalize the movement. I value the wisdom of those who have long been laboring for just peace in our world. We millennials and Gen Zers need that perspective as we discern what nonviolent witness means for our generation. We, in turn, bring the kind of passion and energy that motivates Elisha’s response. With reckless abandon, he slaughters all his oxen and throws a farewell feast so that he can go all in with Elijah and not look back.
As Pax Christi USA celebrates 50 years, I give thanks for this sacred time we now have to share the mantle of peace-building and accompany one another on the way of nonviolence.
After the intergenerational session in the morning, most of the participants attended the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Click here to visit Pax Christi USA’s Flickr feed to see photos from the June 11 event.