Earlier today, we learned of the passing of Tom Cornell, long-time Catholic Worker, Catholic peace activist, Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace and one of the co-founders of Pax Christi USA. Johnny Zokovitch, Pax Christi USA Executive Director, released the following statement:

All of Pax Christi USA mourn the loss of Tom Cornell, Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace and one of the co-founders of our movement. Tom’s wit and wisdom, his prophetic edge and challenging witness have been gifts to the Catholic peace and justice movement for over half a century. I had the opportunity to speak with Tom and share his company a handful of times and always came away from those times invigorated by his spirit and more deeply rooted because of his critiques of society and government, but also the Church and our own movement. We’ve loss a tremendous figure and offer our condolences to Monica, his family and all who know and love him.”

Tom began with the Catholic Worker in 1953 and 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. Tom was named a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace in 2021 for his contributions made in preaching and practicing gospel nonviolence, peacemaking, reconciliation and justice. He served as a living embodiment to our community and beyond of what it means to live a life rooted in the “peace of Christ”.

Tom Cornell – Presente!

Pictured above: Tom Cornell (L) and others burn their draft cards to protest the Vietnam War, Nov. 1965, Union Square, NYC. (Photo credit: The Plough)

(This page will be updated with an obituary for Tom once it has been published.)

Other quotes regarding Tom from our Pax Christi USA community (and see the comments section below for more):

Jane Morrissey, SSJ, Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace: “Tom Cornell farmed for peace, firm for peace, gave form to peace with courage and tenacity, and always with his family gathered around the Risen ONE! May we follow…”

More about Tom:

10 thoughts on “Statement on the passing of Tom Cornell, Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace

  1. We have another Saint in Holy Mystery encouraging and supporting us as we continue on our journey of peacemaking in our time. Thank you Tom Presente!

  2. May he rest in peace! My only encounter with Tom was in the lobby of the al-Fanar Hotel in Baghdad. It was a joy to cross paths with him there and to imbibe the spirit of Catholic Worker through him.

  3. Here is a link to a YouTube discussion of articles by Tom Cornell and Jim Forest about the nonviolent movement:

  4. Tom was a great supporter of Pax Christi Hudson valley for many years. We had the honor of having him speak many times at our events. His presence was a gift to everyone whose life he touched. Gentle, kind, with a knack for speaking truth to power he was a giant of a man. So grateful for his guidance and inspiration over the years. He will deeply missed. My sincerest condolences to Monica, Tom Jr and Deidre and his beautiful extended family all over the world. “ for your reward wolll be great in heaven”, amen! Tom Cornell presente!☮️

  5. I feel so privileged to know him and the family. The Catholic worker and I have been buddies in so many ways as I too have worked for peace and justice illuminated by the Catholic worker heroes who inspired my whole life vocation in the GRAIL movement! Thank you Tom! Presente!

  6. Reflections on living with Tom & the Cornell family.

    Tom Cornell’s passing into his long awaited reunion with his creator is an occasion to share my family’s appreciation for the love, concern and wisdom that Tom, Monica, Tommy and Dierdre shared with us for the year that we enjoyed their hospitality and mentorship at Guadalupe House in Waterbury Connecticut, where our family of four was invited to occupy two of the rooms of the former convent from which we participated with 15 co-residents in providing sustenance for many hungry folks of Waterbury at two soup kitchens per day.
    For me the most memorable aspect of Tom was the inexhaustible supply of stories of his personal relationships with Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, The Berrigan Brothers, Peter Maurin, and other icons of American Catholic struggles for social justice. … And Tom himself is now one of those icons.”presente”

    Tim Fogarty

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