Tag Archives: David O’Brien

ON THE LINE: December 2013 edition features actions on the death penalty, immigration reform, SOA 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. These are gleaned from articles in local newspapers, websites, magazines, and elsewhere.

PC AUSTIN (TX) CO-SPONSORS ANTI-DEATH PENALTY OBSERVANCE: (by Bob Rankin) “This year, Pax Christi Austin joined with the Friends Meeting of Austin (Quaker) and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship to plan and sponsor our annual Sant’Egidio ‘Cities For Life’ Vigil on Nov. 30th. We gathered at the Plaza in front of Austin City Hall where we prayed, reflected on the death penalty in Texas, the United States, and sang. We had approached a City Council Member asking for a proclamation and received one. Finally we processed through a few city blocks of restaurants and business with ‘No More Executions!’ signs and ‘sandwich boards’ with the names of the 507 executed in Texas since 1976.”

Pax Christi Austin (TX) members march against the death penalty as part of "Cities for Life" in November. Photo by Bob Kinney

Pax Christi Austin (TX) members march against the death penalty as part of “Cities for Life” in November. Photo by Bob Kinney

PCUSA TEACHER OF PEACE BISHOP GUMBLETON SHARES ADVENT HOMILY WITH NEW PC GROUP IN MISSISSIPPI: (in NCR) “During this day, when we are spending time as a Pax Christi group (at St. Richard’s Parish), trying to determine how we can best live out the commitment we make when we join Pax Christi, it is very clear that our Scripture lessons provide us with very important ideas and important things for us to reflect on, think about, to become truly peacemakers, making Pax Christi the peace of Christ come about in our world. We’re celebrating the season of Advent, of course, and I’m sure all of us remember that and realize and experience that this is a season of hope — hope for the coming of Jesus. But we also have to remember that Jesus came historically almost 2,000 years ago, and we can hardly hope for something that has already happened. So what are we hoping for?”… Read more at http://ncronline.org/blogs/peace-pulpit/give-violence-prepare-final-coming-god

MICHAEL WALLI NAMED PEACEMAKER OF THE YEAR: (by Joshua McElwee in NCR) “It was the kind of celebration that, six months ago, Michael Walli might have enjoyed: Simple plates of spaghetti and salad, gathered friends, and an award for a noted local peacemaker. Except that award went to Walli himself, who could not accept because he is imprisoned some 700 miles away in a private detention facility in Georgia. Members of the DC/Baltimore chapter of the international Catholic peace group Pax Christi awarded their annual peacemaker of the year award to Walli Sunday anyway, honoring him in absentia and organizing their members to write to the judge urging leniency for the activist and the two others in his group…” Read more at https://paxchristiusa.org/2013/11/30/regional-event-pax-christi-metro-dc-baltimore-honors-peacemaker-of-the-year/

Seven plowshares activists seen together at the Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore Peacemaker of the Year event. They are holding a sign created by the late Philip Berrigan, who participated in the first action in 1980. Photo by Ted Majdosz

Seven plowshares activists seen together at the Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore Peacemaker of the Year event. They are holding a sign created by the late Philip Berrigan, who participated in the first action in 1980. Photo by Ted Majdosz

PAX CHRISTI MEMBERS FROM ACROSS THE NATION CONVERGE ON THE SOA: “On Friday night, 200 Pax Christi USA members and friends gathered at the Columbus Convention Center for Pax Christi USA’s annual gathering at the SOA. This year’s presentation was entitled, ‘Gun Violence Has No Room in the Spirituality of Peacemaking,’ with presentations from Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Kathy Kelly and Pax Christi USA Executive Director Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN. The evening started with a welcome from Cathy Crosby, former member of the Pax Christi USA National Council, and Carole Lacour of Pax Christi Atlanta, with both serving as the emcees for the evening…” Read more at https://paxchristiusa.org/2013/11/26/soa-report-back-from-the-annual-vigil-and-action-at-the-soa/

PC New Mexico members Ellie Voutselas and Bud Ryan at the SOA. Photo by Johnny Zokovitch

PC New Mexico members Ellie Voutselas and Bud Ryan at the SOA during Sunday’s funeral procession. Photo by Johnny Zokovitch

PC METRO NY ISSUES ADVENT REFLECTION: “Hurry up and wait!  Sadly, this could be the theme for many each Advent. We hurry to shop. We hurry to write Christmas cards. We hurry to cook and bake. We hurry to decorate. We hurry, hurry, hurry. Then we wait. We wait on lines in stores or on the web. We wait for deliveries. We wait in traffic. We wait and wait and wait. Actually, Advent is about preparing, which we’re doing when we do all that scurrying about, and it’s about waiting, but the preparation and the waiting are a bit different…” Read more at http://www.nypaxchristi.org/reflection.html

PC METRO DC-BALTIMORE MEMBERS JOIN FAST4FAMILIES: (by Scott Wright) “On November 12, faith, immigrant rights and labor leaders announced the launch of “Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship,” taking place on the National Mall, steps away from the Capitol. On that day, Eliseo Medina, DJ Yoon, Christian Avila, and Lisa Sharon Harper began a fast to move the hearts and compassion of members of Congress to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship. In their statement the four fasters asked: “What is our faith, our words and our history worth if not translated into action, sacrifice and redemption?” … Read more at https://paxchristiusa.org/2013/12/13/reflection-a-light-shines-in-the-darkness-immigrant-fast-for-justice/

PC ILLINOIS MEMBERS ACT FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM: (by Tom Cordaro) “For years immigrant communities and their supporters have been marching, canvasing, writing letters, lobbying politicians, holding educational events, telling their stories and praying for an end to the pain, suffering and fear caused by our broken immigration system.  In spite of all this effort nearly 2 million undocumented immigrants have been forcibly deported leaving nearly 3 million children without a parent. In the face of so much preventable human suffering there comes a time when good order must be interrupted so the cries of children can be heard. This is why I joined 141 immigrant activists in blocking a major intersection in downtown Chicago on November 6th…” Read more at https://paxchristiusa.org/2013/11/19/immigration-this-is-what-america-looks-like/

Pax Christi Illinois members (including Tom Cordaro, PCUSA Ambassador of Peace, bottom right corner) join the immigration reform action in Chicago.

Pax Christi Illinois members (including Tom Cordaro, PCUSA Ambassador of Peace, bottom right corner) join the immigration reform action in Chicago.

Upcoming or Ongoing Events:

Dec. 28 – Feast of the Holy Innocents actions and observances

Jan. 1-31 – January is Poverty Awareness Month, http://www.usccb.org/about/catholic-campaign-for-human-development/povertyusa/upload/poverty-awareness-month-calendar.pdf

Jan. 6-13, Jan. 11 – Witness Against Torture’s Fast for Justice from the 6th through the 13th and Jan. 11th actions to Close Guantanamo. Visit  http://witnesstorture.org/blog/2013/12/05/december-wat-trial-january-action-dates-announced/ for more information.

Jan. 26 – Peacemaking through the Arts: “Luke Live!” with PC-Metro New York Board member,  Fr. James DiLuzio, CSP. “Luke Live!” is a dramatic proclamation of the Gospel of Luke interspersed with Song Meditations, highlighting the peace and justice components in Luke’s Gospel. At St. Joseph’s Greenwich Village Church from 2:30 to 4:30pm.


PC Metro DC-Baltimore member Donna Grimes’ son was featured in an article in The Washington Post following the Trayvon Martin verdict earlier this year … For Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, Pax Christi El Paso (TX) collaborated with El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty and the El Paso chapter of CURE to protest the death penalty, mass incarceration, and abuse of solitary confinement, demonstrating in front of the county courthouse … PCUSA Program Director Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN presented at the Ignatian Family Teach-in in November in DC … PC Massachusetts member David O’Brien reflects on the legacy of JFKFormer Pax Christi USA Policy Director Jean Stokan had a letter to the editor published in The Washington Post regarding the ongoing situation in Honduras … PC Pacific NW member Nick Mele writes on the negotiations with IranPC Metro DC-Baltimore member Judy Coode has co-edited a book of reflections for next year’s liturgical readings for Orbis Press … PC Illinois members protested outside Rep. Roskam’s office after he repeatedly refused to meet with them … Former PCUSA interns Amy Watts and Manuel Padilla are now working in Chad with Jesuit Refugee Services and writing a blog about their experiences … PCUSA Teacher of Peace and PC Birmingham (AL) member Jim Douglass was featured on the Peace Talks radio programPax Christi USA gives thanks for the life of Nelson MandelaPax Christi International’s December 2013 newsletter is online … See more local and regional updates in the Fall 2013 edition of The Peace Current

REFLECTION: JFK, a reflection on his life, death and legacy

Obrien, David -historyby David O’Brien 
former Pax Christi USA National Council member

John F. Kennedy’s 1960 election was a moment of arrival of American Catholics into the mainstream of American society. His eloquent inaugural, with Boston’s Cardinal Richard Cushing offering the prayer, seemed to fulfill the promise of American Catholic history. I graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1960 and like many of my generation, I fell in love with John Kennedy. His intelligence, grace, and willingness to confront hard truths (movement on civil rights, resistance to military options during Cuban missile crisis, his American University address) and, yes, his “style” especially, for me, at press conferences, drew me in.

Then, after a thousand days, came the assassination—an experience of what Catholic peace leader James Douglass, drawing on Thomas Merton, calls “the unspeakable.” That experience, over days of national solidarity in grief, took place amid an amazingly integrated series of rituals at once American and Catholic. For those of us descended from European Catholic immigrants, this was the completion of the American Catholic journey: We were no longer outsiders, but insiders. Later we would face deeper truths about racism and war and nuclear weapons and abortion, and we would never know that integration again. Experience, not ideology, forced reconsideration of our American and Catholic commitments—and responsibilities. It is not too much to say that a long history of American-Catholic negotiation aimed at liberation and integration—liberty and justice for all, including us—ended in November, 1963.


I thought then and think now that this experience was deeply religious, as deeply religious for me as any experience “in church.” Religion is about what matters, and America really did—and does—matter. Sociologist Robert Bellah famously used President Kennedy’s inaugural address to revive consideration of what scholars call “civil religion.” The assassination and its aftermath stirred profound feelings that had much to do with love of God and neighbor—and love’s absence. So did the 1968 murders and mourning of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. We were stirred by JFK; then he was murdered. How many young African Americans were stirred by Dr. King’s “dream,” and then they too had to face the dreamer’s brutal murder. JFK and MLK mattered, and so did the people and the nation they loved…

Read the entire reflection by clicking here.