Tag Archives: Nelson Mandela

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: On Robben Island (South Africa journey, part five)

Rev. John Dear, S.J.

by John Dear

(This is the fifth of six journal entries from my January pilgrimage to South Africa.)

We left Port Elizabeth and drove all day along the magnificent Southern coast of South Africa, along the famous “Garden Route” to Cape Town. It was a glorious ride, through Tsitsikamma, Knysna and George, passed Mossel Bay to Riversdale toward Cape Town. But it was surprising to see no one swimming in the ocean along the beautiful beaches. The waters are infested with sharks. One can only swim in designated places where underwater fences have been installed. Just last month, a surfer was eaten by a Great White Shark.

John Dear standing under the open window of Mandela's prison cell, Robben Island, Jan. 23, 2014

John Dear standing under the open window of Mandela’s prison cell, Robben Island, Jan. 23, 2014

On the outskirts of Cape Town, we saw the ravages of poverty—tin shacks for miles and miles where a million people scrap to get by. The divide between the very poor and the very rich has grown over the years, and South Africa may now have the greatest economic extreme of any nation.

We made our way north around Cape Town toward our hotel near Milnerton. Once there, we walked down to the white beach. Because of the peninsula shape, we looked out across the ocean directly at the city of Cape Town with the flat top Table Mountain standing majestically behind it. The sun began to set, and we were overwhelmed by the beautiful sight.

It is easy to see why so many people consider Cape Town the most beautiful city on the planet. Located on a small peninsula at the southern tip of Africa, it stands on the Atlantic Ocean, though on the other side of its mountains, one can swim in the Indian Ocean. The city is full of historic buildings, modern shopping malls, a thriving port, and endless beaches, parks and hiking trails, all spread out below Table Mountain and the oceans.

We spent our first day on top of Table Mountain. We took the cable car up, walked the paths and stood speechless looking out at the amazing vistas—one hundred miles in every direction over both oceans and distant mountains, and below us, the city of Cape Town. It was thrilling.

Afterwards, late in the afternoon, my friend Fr. Ray East and I took a taxi to the home of Fr. Michael Lapsley, the famous Anglican priest and ANC leader who had been exiled during the 1980s for his leadership against apartheid. In 1990, three months after Mandela’s release from prison, he received an envelope in the mail from the security forces. When he opened it, a massive bomb exploded. He lost both hands and one eye, and suffered many other major injuries and burns. By some miracle, he survived, and now he lectures around the world on healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. He told us of his work, his travels, the current political crises in South Africa, and his passion to expand the personal healing work of Christ to cities and nations as well, that we could begin to experience what he called “social healing.”

“Michael’s life is part of the tapestry of the many long journeys and struggles of our people,” Nelson Mandela once said. His latest book, “Redeeming the Past: My Journey from Freedom Fighter to Healer,” is just out.

Michael’s a living saint, and a sign of hope for the world. It was a great blessing to spend time with him in his home.

Then we spent a full day on Robben Island, the notorious prison where Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid freedom fighters were imprisoned for decades. First, we drove downtown to the Waterfront shopping center, to the Robben Island Ferry. It was another hot, sunny day, and my friends and I boarded a small boat and headed out into the Atlantic Ocean toward the island, with Cape Town and Table Mountain behind us. Along the way, we saw seals, and possibly one shark.

Once there, we boarded a bus and embarked on a long driving tour around the entire island. Our young guide was a brilliant, eloquent anti-apartheid activist who told us the details of the struggle, the horrors of the prison, and the complete history of the island.

The great irony: it was spectacularly beautiful. We saw the houses where the guards lived, their church, and their bar. We learned about the leper colony in the 1800s, and saw their graves. Whenever we stopped, we watched the penguins standing on the rocky shores. Somewhere in the middle of the island, we were brought to the notorious lime quarry where Mandela and the others were forced to hammer at the rock for over six hours a day. They nearly went blind because of the constant dust and the glare of sunlight on the white lime cliffs. We stood there and said a prayer.

Finally, we came to the prison. We were led through the entire prison by a former prisoner, a man who spent some seven years behind bars for his work against apartheid.

It was hard to take it all in. So much suffering, injustice, grief and loss. And yet, it was so inspiring because this is where Mandela and the others studied and prepared for the liberation to come. I was profoundly moved by the whole experience. It certainly brought back memories of my own time behind bars.

Standing at Mandela’s cell was particularly heart-wrenching and inspiring. To think how he inspired the others, the nation, and the world from this cell, and how he emerged with a new spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation to lead the nation! One could only pray and give thanks and feel renewed to carry on the struggle for justice and peace.

Back at the dock to catch the ferry to Cape Town, I studied the massive murals along the wall. It showed Mandela and others in three stages of their lives and their nation’s recent history. Below their faces were the large words (the size of billboards)—“Repression,” “Release,” and “Resurrection.”

It was the first time I’ve ever seen the word “Resurrection” used to describe a moment in the history of a nation. Despite South Africa’s violence, crime, poverty, and corruption, I could almost taste that spirit of resurrection. With Robben Island and Cape Town, my pilgrimage has come full circle. I could see how the nonviolent struggle for justice leads to new life, new victories, and new openings for peace.

I sat on the top deck of the boat for the ride back, taking in the sunlight, the refreshing wind, and the approaching view of Table Mountain and Cape Town. As we road the ocean waters, I felt energized to carry on the struggle for justice and peace, as Mandela and his comrades did, and determined anew to play my part in working for a new world without war, poverty, racism or violence.

Resurrection indeed! The journey of social healing continues.