Tag Archives: Blue Water Pax Christi

ON THE LINE: January 2016 edition – Vote for Marie! Bernie Kopera, PRESENTE! and more

Compiled by Johnny Zokovitch

Each month, “On The Line” features news items and announcements from around the nation featuring Pax Christi members, local groups, regions and partners.

marienomforpeaceprize-bigPAX CHRISTI INTERNATIONAL CO-PRESIDENT MARIE DENNIS IS FINALIST FOR PUBLIC PEACE PRIZE; VOTE NOW! (from Pax Christi International) We are pleased to tell you that Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, has been nominated for the 2016 Public Peace Prize. This prize is the only one in the world which is based on the public’s choices. The voting is open until 24 January, 2016. To vote for Marie Dennis you have three possibilities: 1) Vote on the Public Peace Prize website: Visit the webpage presenting Marie (each visitor = 1 vote) or leave an appreciative comment on the bottom of the page (each comment = 3 votes). See Marie’s nomination page here. 2) On Public Peace Prize’s Facebook page: Click “Like” below the posting presenting Marie. To increase the number of votes, click on the “share” button. See the posting here. 3) On Public Peace Prize’s Twitter account: “Retweet” the tweets presenting Marie. See the tweet here.

On December 23 PC Houston members helped to distribute Christmas gifts to children who were leaving the Harris County Jail with their parents. The children had been visiting their loved ones in the jail. The event is sponsored by End Mass Incarceration Houston with the support of other organizations.

On December 23 PC Houston members helped to distribute Christmas gifts to children who were leaving the Harris County Jail with their parents. The children had been visiting their loved ones in the jail. The event is sponsored by End Mass Incarceration Houston with the support of other organizations.

PAX CHRISTI INDIANAPOLIS SUPPORTS ARCHBISHOP ON REFUGEE RESPONSE: In a letter to Archbishop Joseph Tobin of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, PC Indianapolis wrote, “We, the members of Pax Christi of Indianapolis, are supportive of and encouraged by your courageous actions and example in deciding to accept the Syrian refugee family to our Indiana home.  Your words and your decision have sent a strong message of Christianity and the words of Christ to ‘love one another.’ Thank you for your leadership and the message of justice you have sent.” The Archbishop had decided to go through with the refugee relocation over objections from the Governor of Indiana.

Seven people were arrested at a Pentagon peace witness on the Feast of the Holy Innocents following the Faith and Resistance Retreat. See more photos at https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AmZMEAszDHL4CtM&id=D886EDE2FD42F445%21882&cid=D886EDE2FD42F445

Seven people were arrested at a Pentagon peace witness on the Feast of the Holy Innocents following the Faith and Resistance Retreat. See more photos at http://1drv.ms/1PeViuD

PAX CHRISTI ILLINOIS SPONSORS WORLD PEACE DAY INTERFAITH SERVICE: (from Tom Cordaro, Pax Christi Illinois) Pax Christi Illinois was a major sponsor and organizer of the 2016 World Peace Day Interfaith Prayer Service, celebrated January 3, in Wentz Concert Hall at North Central College in Illinois. Over 300 people attended. The event was co-sponsored by Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Bahai, Christian Scientist and other faith communities. Click on the following link to read the speech given by Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace Tom Cordaro at the event: https://paxchristiusa.org/2016/01/13/reflection-the-cross-and-the-call-to-reconciliation/

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Participants in the World Peace Day Interfaith Prayer Service in Illinois.

PAX CHRISTI ILLINOIS ACTIVIST BERNIE KOPERA PASSES: It is with great sadness that we share with you that Bernie Kopera of Pax Christi Illinois, who we featured in last month’s OTL, passed away on Christmas Day from a heart attack. Bernie was 71. You can read a longer article in the Chicago Tribune celebrating and remembering Bernie’s life at http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/news/ct-sta-bernie-kopera-obit-st-1229-20151228-story.html.

Bernie Kopera, in back with right hand raised, at the SOA march to the detention center in Stewart, with other members of PC Illinois.

Bernie Kopera, in back with right hand raised and sunglasses, at the SOA march to the detention center in Stewart, with other members of PC Illinois, Nov. 2015.

Lent2016bookletcoverPAX CHRISTI REFLECTION BOOKLET FOR LENT AVAILABLE AS AN E-BOOK! The Lent 2016 reflection booklet, “Everything is Grace: Reflections for Lent 2016,” is now available for purchase and download at the Pax Christi USA store as an electronic book. The book is authored by Tonie Malone (PC New Jersey); Nancy Small (PC Massachusetts); Allison Blay (PC Florida); Cathy Crayton (PC Southern California); Eric LeCompte (PC Metro D.C.-Baltimore), Kwame Assenyoh, SVD; and Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN. To purchase and download this excellent resource, go to http://paxchristiusa.3dcartstores.com/Lent-2016–e-BOOK–DAILY-REFLECTIONS–NO-HARD-COPY-WILL-BE-SENT_p_297.html 


Upcoming or Ongoing Events:

Jan. 26: Bishop Gumbleton’s birthday

Jan. 29-31: Pax Christi USA National Council meeting in Bay St. Louis, MS

Jan. 31: Peacemaking thru the Arts with Pax Christi Metro New York, Greenwich Village, NYC

Feb: Black History Month

Feb. 4: Birth of Rosa Parks, 1913

Feb. 5: Christian Peace Witness for Syria and We Refuse To Be Enemies Interfaith group’s day-long planning meeting, the Methodist Building, Washington D.C.; to attend or join by teleconference, contact Bob Cooke of Pax Christi International at cookerh1251@gmail.com.

Feb. 10: Nelson Mandela released, 1990

Feb. 10: Ash Wednesday

Feb. 12: NAACP founded, 1909

Feb. 14: Frederick Douglass, b. 1818

Feb. 20: World Day of Social Justice

March: Women’s History Month

Mar. 1: International Death Penalty Abolition Day

Mar. 2-13: The Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ “Workers’ Voice Tour”, Eastern U.S.

Mar. 8: International Women’s Day

Mar. 13: Election of Pope Francis, 2013

Mar. 20: Palm Sunday

Mar. 21-27: Week of Solidarity with Peoples Struggling Against Racism and Racial Discrimination

Mar. 22: World Water Day

Mar. 24: Holy Thursday, Feast of Blessed Oscar Romero

Mar. 25: Good Friday, International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Mar. 27: Easter

Mar. 31: Cesar Chavez, b. 1927



Pax Christi Michigan and its Lansing chapter celebrated “Pax Christi Lansing’s 9th Annual Interfaith New Year Community Peace Prayer Service” on January 1 … Pax Christi USA joins with the rest of the Pax Christi world community in giving thanks for the contributions of Jose Henriquez who left his position as Pax Christi International Secretary General in December … Read this report-back from PC Metro DC-Baltimore member Sr. Veronica Schweyen who was on a SHARE delegation to El Salvador in December … Fr. Jim Murphy was sentenced to 5 days in jail in Wisconsin for his anti-drone action … Blue Water (MI) Pax Christi had their Christmas billboard featured in this article in a local newspaper …  Srs. Patricia Chappell and Anne-Louise Nadeau, executive director and director of programs, respectively, of Pax Christi USA, led a peace retreat on racism at the Carondelet Hospitality Center in Latham, NY in conjunction with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and the Justice Committee of the Albany Province … Former PCUSA National Council chair and member of Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore Judy Coode was quoted in an article from CNS on the immigration and refugee crisis … A colleague from Pax Christi Germany was quoted in this article in the NY Times on the refugee crisis … The Winter edition of Kerux from Pax Christi Metro New York is now online … Pax Christi International’s January 2016 newsletter is online … See more local and regional updates in the Fall-Winter 2015-16 edition of The Peace Current

REFLECTION: The seldom told story of Otto Shimek

by Michael McCarthy
Blue Water Pax Christi

Otto Shimek

Otto Shimek

There were pilgrimages to the parish church in the area where he died, twice a year during the period when Poland, and all Eastern Europe, were breaking free of the Soviet Union and Communist control.  His name was celebrated in many circles, from the most devout to the purely political.  Lech Walesa of the Solidarity Union, leading the way to freedom for Poland in those times, praised Otto Schimek’s witness, that of a 19 year old Nazi soldier who wouldn’t kill Polish peasants in World War II.  Pope John Paul II wanted to visit his grave, but was at the last moment dissuaded by advisors.

Now Otto Schimek’s story is buried, as well as his body missing—no reliable gravestone—an unknown soldier, who, as his last letter before he was executed for “deserting” testifies, was a courageous Catholic, a person faithful unto death.  He had refused to be part of Hitler’s lethal acts against Polish citizens.

Very little of his life has been written in English.  We know from German army records that he was born May 5, 1925 and died on November 14, 1944, for refusing to serve Hitler’s Wermacht forces.  Two books in Polish, and the website of the Catholic Church in Machowa Poland, give some detail to his short life, relying on his family’s accounts of his early life in a poor district of Vienna Austria, and the problems he had with recruitment into the German army.   He was raised to practice his faith, to do good for others, to go to mass on Sunday.  He missed some school helping his mother’s small sewing business.

When conscripted into the armies of Hitler he told his family and others that he couldn’t kill anyone.  Then before his death he said again he couldn’t kill, “the war was provoked by the Germans and is not Christian.”  In his final letter before his execution he said, “I am in a happy mood. What do we have to lose? Nothing, only our poor lives, as they cannot kill our souls. What a hope! Today, I am going to heaven, where the Father is waiting. May God guard you so that you will join me.”

An Austrian Cardinal wrote in support of his cause, an Austrian Jesuit writer against.  A few journalists have investigated and are divided.  Most all Polish authors are convinced he was a hero of faith—a remarkable young man who followed his conscience.

Padriac Kenney, a Professor of History and International Studies at Indiana University, and Director of their Polish Studies Center, has assisted in this effort to make better known to the U.S. public the story of Otto Schimek’s life and death.  He has this to say after reviewing the most relevant book [The Debate About Grenadier Schimek by Lech Niekrasz], published only in Polish.

“Niekrasz devotes the book to debunking, quite effectively, the writings of those who say Schimek was an ordinary deserter. And he does track down one old peasant who recalls the whole story and appears to confirm that Schimek really did hide two partisans, was found out and ordered to shoot them, refused, and was eventually executed. Niekrasz points out that execution was usually not the punishment for desertion, except in exceptional cases.”

A young Austrian soldier died by firing squad in 1944 for refusing the orders of an unjust war.  May we discover more of his story, which has similarity to that of the recently beatified Franz Jagerstatter who also wouldn’t fight for Hitler.  What a hope this gives in today’s world so wearied by wars without end, to all of us who take courage in the saving mercy of our God, whose justice transcends all borders.