In the five decades of Pax Christi USA’s history, at key moments we have identified and honored extraordinary and experienced leaders within the Pax Christi USA community and commissioned them to represent our movement through ongoing outreach efforts. These “Ambassadors of Peace” are chosen for the contributions they have made in preaching and practicing gospel nonviolence, peacemaking, reconciliation and justice.
Ambassadors of Peace promote the mission of Pax Christi USA through word and witness, sharing our programs and campaigns with new audiences, serving as our representatives in coalitions, and generally carrying the message of Pax Christi USA wherever they go. They serve as living embodiments to our community and beyond of what it means to live a life rooted in the “peace of Christ.”
If you would like to schedule one of our Ambassadors of Peace to speak at your event, please contact email@example.com.
To read articles written by Ambassadors of Peace, click here.
AMBASSADORS OF PEACE
Adrienne Alexander of Chicago, IL: Adrienne grew up in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, though she’s called a number of Black Catholic parishes in other dioceses home before settling in Chicago with her family. She is a former member of the Pax Christi USA National Council, a past speaker at Pax Christi USA National Conference, and promoter of student and young adult organizing within Pax Christi USA. Adrienne has made her career working as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for AFSCME Council 31, a (mostly) public sector labor union in Illinois. She currently serves on the boards of Arise Chicago & Catholic Labor Network.
Sr. Pegge Boehm, PBVM of Sioux Falls, SD entered Presentation Convent in August 1984. Sponsored by the OFM Conv. at St. Josaphat Basilica, Milwaukee, WI, Sister founded the Secular Franciscan Order in Tlacoachistlahuaca, Guerrero, Mexico, living with the Presentation Sisters at that mission from 1981-1984. After earning a bachelor’s degree in theology from Creighton University, she became director of the Catholic Rural Life Office for the Diocese of Sioux Falls. She later served as director of the Grassroots Rural Ministry for the National Catholic Rural Life Office in Des Moines, IA. She furthered her education at St. John School of Theology, Collegeville, MN, earning a Masters of Divinity Degree. She served a number of years in parish ministry and Hispanic ministry in Sioux Falls, SD, and currently serves on the leadership council and as the SRI Coordinator of the Presentation Sisters. She is co-coordinator of Pax Christi South Dakota.
Bill and Mary Carry of Sylvan Lake, Michigan: Mary served on the National Council of Pax Christi USA from 1980 to 1983 and Bill served in the early 1990s, including two years as Treasurer. Bill retired from his position as an engineer for Chrysler to devote himself to full-time peace work, and Mary is well-known throughout Michigan for her work teaching conflict resolution in schools.
Helen Casey (deceased): Helen served as co-coordinator for Pax Christi Michigan for six years. She was also a past member of the Pax Christi USA National Council. Helen was the first woman appointed to the Michigan Catholic Conference Board of Directors and also served as a member of the United States Catholic Conference’s Campaign for Human Development. Helen participated in nonviolent civil disobedience actions resulting in numerous arrests and three jail terms. Helen also served as a consultant to the US Catholic Conference committee that resulted in the original Call to Action conference in 1976.
Isaac Chandler of Jasper, FL grew up in the Diocese of St. Augustine, FL. In the late 1990s he was a member of the Pax Christi Young Adult Forum. As a member of the Forum he participated in many gatherings including the joint PCUSA/Jubilee Justice Conference in 1999, where he was both a participant as well as volunteer. From 2004 to 2015, he was a member of the Pax Christi Anti-Racist Team (PCART), and continued his training with the Crossroads Workshop in 2005. He co-facilitated an Anti-Racism Workshop for Pax Christi Texas in 2008 and for the National Council in December of that same year. In 2010, he was a workshop presenter during the 2010 National Assembly in Chicago, IL on the subject of anti-racism, specifically for Pax Christi USA. During the administration of Sr. Patty Chappell, Chandler was a participant in many of her “Regional Gatherings” held throughout the country. In 2013, he co-facilitated a breakout session at the National Assembly in Atlanta entitled: “Voter Suppression and the New Jim Crow: An Anti-Racism Analysis.” In 2015, he was elected to the National Council for two terms (2015-2021). As a council member, he served in several leadership roles including National Council Chair which he was elected during the 2020-2021 year. During his term as Chair of the “Pandemic Council” (a term he says with great affection), Chandler gave the “Letter to the Membership” address, wrote a reflection during Black History Month, and presided during the opening session of Pax Christi USA’s first all-virtual National Assembly in 2022. In 2020, Chandler was one of the contributors for the 2020 Advent and Christmas Reflections book “I say to you: Watch!” Isaac is passionate about issues of racial justice, environmental protection, and voter education. Currently he is a high school science teacher (marine and environmental) in Live Oak, FL.
Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN of Laurel, MD, is a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from the Catholic University of America. From 1981-89, she was employed with Shalom, Inc. in Philadelphia doing extensive work in the field of substance abuse, with an emphasis on providing intervention services to African American youth and their families. Sister was also employed as a family therapist with Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic. She served as full-time President of the National Black Sisters’ Conference from 1995-2001. The National Black Sisters’ Conference under her leadership sponsored the first National Gathering for Black Catholic Women in July 2011. In July 2011, Sister served on the Provincial Leadership Team of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in the former Connecticut Province. She was the first African American to serve in this capacity with the Sisters of Notre Dame. Having been trained by Crossroads, she is co-chair of the Sisters of Notre Dame, USA Anti-Racism Team, and is committed to working with religious congregations on dismantling racism. In 2011, Sister became the first African American Executive Director of Pax Christi USA. Currently she serves on the leadership team of the US East-West Province of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
Jo Clarke of Erie, PA, a native of London, England, first became involved in peace and justice issues as a young student. She was a member of Pax Christi England & Wales, served on their Executive Committee, and continues to work with them on various art projects. In 1988 Jo was hired as the first Pax Christi USA Development Director. She also served as Co-National Coordinator and Associate Director, as well as Art Editor for the Pax Christi magazine and The Catholic Peace Voice newspaper. She acted as Development Consultant to Pax Christi International and was a delegate to International Councils in London, Assisi and New Jersey. Her greatest satisfaction was working to expand PCUSA membership and helping the organization thrive financially. As a Benedictine Oblate, Jo continued her ministry of fundraising as Director of Annual Giving with the Erie Benedictines from 2006-2021. Since retiring in January 2021, Jo is able to devote more time to two of her greatest loves, art/photography, and gardening. She continues to assist the PCUSA national office and Council Development Committee in areas of development and fundraising.
Bob Cooke of Gaithersburg, MD worked almost exclusively in the union labor field during his paid career – for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Research Department and for the Plumbers and Pipefitters National Pension Fund. Faith and social justice have been key motivators for him his entire adult life. For the past 20+ years, he has focused more in peace and justice issues, first motivated by work against the death penalty and the wars fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, and has been deeply committed to and engaged with Pax Christi, particularly in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area.
Tom Cordaro, of Naperville, Illinois: Tom is the director of Justice and Outreach Ministry at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Naperville. He has served as chair of the Pax Christi USA National Council and has worked as a professional writer, organizer and activist in the faith-based peace movement for more than 25 years. He is the author of the award-winning book, Be Not Afraid: An Alternative to the War on Terror, and To Wake the Nation, an introduction to nonviolent civil disobedience. Tom is also one of the founding members of Pax Christi USA’s anti-racism team and the anti-racism initiative, Brothers and Sisters All.
Tom Cornell (deceased) was a long-time Catholic Worker, beginning with the CW in 1953. He 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 was a speaker, mentor and guide to numerous Pax Christi USA members, regions and local groups for many years. He served as managing editor for The Catholic Worker newspaper from 1962-64 and was part of Peter Maurin Farm in Marlborough, New York, a house of hospitality for the formerly homeless and for men recovering from addiction or struggling with physical or mental impairments. He co-founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship and served on the executive committee of the Dorothy Day Guild.
Cathleen Crayton, of Claremont, California: Cathy, a co-founder of the Pax Christi Anti Racism Team, was a member of the Pax Christi National Council from 1998-2003, and served as Vice Chair from 2001-2003. She is a charter member of her local Pax Christi group, Pax Christi Pomona Valley, and has served in various leadership capacities at the regional level of Pax Christi Southern California. She has served on the boards of prominent social justice organizations including NETWORK, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Commission for Justice and Peace, and the San Gabriel Region Pastoral Council (Archdiocese of Los Angeles), as well as the Catholic Campaign for Human Development Advisory Committee. She has written and published articles on the topic of anti-racism and is a speaker at workshops, conferences and other gatherings.
Ronaldo Cruz of Burke, VA was born into a family who was of Mexican/Yaqui Indian heritage and of bi-border nationality. In northern México and Tucson, Arizona, his family’s skills in construction, carpentry, ranching, and cooking helped to build the city, its parks, streets, and federal highways, as well as schools, business buildings, hospitals, churches, police stations, and homes. Yet, their contributions were not enough to please city, state, and federal leaders who assigned families, including Ron’s, to live in segregation with poor housing and stagnant advancement. Those segregated included Mexicans, African Americans, Yaquis and other native peoples, and Chinese. The businesses of the Japanese families were confiscated without restitution, and the families were placed in federal encampments. These communities have had to tell their own stories, as it is not a part of American history. Ron’s activism and commitment to peace with justice locally and nationally evolved not out of choice, but from experiencing poor housing and community conditions, protesting the Vietnam war that was taking the lives of young Latinos, advocating for social services, organizing for farmworkers, unionizing for fair wages and work environment, and helping professionalize church workers through training and formation and advocating for their higher education. Ron was a part of the Pax Christi USA national staff for several years, including a period as interim executive director, and has also served on the Pax Christi USA national council.
John Dear of Monterey, CA is a peace activist, organizer, lecturer, retreat leader, and the author/editor of over 25 books, including: Living Peace, Mohandas Gandhi: Essential Writings, Mary of Nazareth, Prophet of Peace, The Questions of Jesus, You Will Be My Witnesses and Transfiguration. John served as the executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation from 1998-2000. He was the founder of Pax Christi New Mexico. Following the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, John began volunteering as a Red Cross chaplain and became one of the coordinators for the chaplain program.
Marie Dennis of Washington, D.C. currently serves as senior advisor to the Secretary General of Pax Christi International and the program chair of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative. Pax Christi USA’s 2022 Teacher of Peace, she is the former co-president of Pax Christi International, former chairperson of the Pax Christi USA National Council, and served as the director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns until 2012. Marie holds a masters degree in moral theology from Washington Theological Union and honorary doctorates from Trinity University and Alvernia University. She is author or co-author of seven books, including Oscar Romero: Reflections on His Life and Writings and Diversity of Vocations. Marie has visited many parts of the world, including countries in conflict, for Maryknoll and Pax Christi International, most recently Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Colombia, Croatia, Sudan, Iraq, Honduras and Haiti. She participated in peace delegations to Afghanistan, Israel-Palestine, El Salvador and Guatemala and with election observer delegations to Zimbabwe, Mexico and Haiti. She is a lay woman, a mother of six and a grandmother.
Rev. Doug Doussan of New Orleans, Louisiana is a former chair of the PCUSA National Council and inspired the birth of Pax Christi New Orleans. As a member of Pax Christi’s Commission on Nonviolence, he developed Pax Christi’s Hawks and Doves conflict resolution program. He presently serves as the pastor of St. Gabriel’s Church in New Orleans.
Eileen Egan (deceased) was the first layperson and first woman to work for Catholic Relief Services, serving as the India executive. Egan was one of the co-founders of Pax Christi USA in the early 1970s, as well as a friend of Mother Teresa and Dorothy Day. Egan wrote several books about her work with Mother Teresa, including: Such a Vision of the Street, At Prayer with Mother Teresa, Blessed Are You: Mother Teresa and the Beatitudes, and The Spirit & the Work. Egan also organized several of Mother Teresa’s visits to the U.S., including a 1960 visit that brought together Mother Teresa and Dorothy Day.
Joseph J. Fahey of Venice, FL served as a professor of religious studies and a member of the peace studies faculty at Manhattan College in New York City. He holds a Ph.D. in religion and social ethics from New York University and served as honorary research fellow at Queens University, Belfast. He is a co-founder of Pax Christi USA, former General Secretary and chairperson of Pax Christi USA, and has served on the councils of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Peace Studies Association, and the Consortium on Peace Research, Education, and Development. He is the author of Reinhold Niebuhr on Human Nature and World Peace; Peace, War, and the Christian Conscience; Irenology: The Study of Peace; War and the Christian Conscience: Where Do You Stand? and co-editor of A Peace Reader: Essential Readings on War, Justice, Non-Violence and World Order.
Sr. Jean Fallon, MM of Maryknoll, NY, originally from Seattle, WA, joined the Maryknoll Sisters and was sent to Japan in 1951 until 2001. While in Japan, Jean joined a Pax Christi group for English speakers. She belonged to the [Japanese] National Catholic Justice & Peace Committee which appointed Jean as their representative at the National Council of Churches, Japan – Peace and Nuclear Affairs Team that was cooperating with Pax Christi USA in their activities in 2000-2001. Both in Japan and after, Jean was involved in work to recognize and atone for the tragic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to promote nuclear weapon disarmament. This has been a constant focal point in her life and efforts. Shortly after September 11, 2001, Jean became part of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (MOGC), serving as a representative at the United Nations, and joined Pax Christi at Maryknoll. After her service with MOGC, she was accepted as a member of Community Peacemaker Teams and served part time with the Hebron Palestine Team from 2007 to 2013. Jean also became part of WESPAC, a committed group with the Middle East as their focus, with which she remains an active member, along with Pax Christi Metro (New York) at Maryknoll.
Donna Grimes of Washington, D.C. is a former member of the Pax Christi USA National Council. She has authored Pax Christi USA’s book of Advent reflections for 2005, Tell Us About the Times When Jesus Came, All God’s People: Catechizing in a Diverse Church (Loyola Press 2017), and was a regular writer for Halleluia People for Eat the Scroll Ministry, a Black Catholic adult evangelization ministry. Donna worked for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2000 to the present in social justice education with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church, staffing the Subcommittee on African American Affairs. She is a JustFaith facilitator, catechetical leader and served on several parish, archdiocesan and community boards in Washington, D.C.
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit, Michigan is the founding Bishop President and Bishop President Emeritus of Pax Christi USA and is the pastor of St. Leo’s Parish in the inner-city of Detroit. Bishop Gumbleton was president of Bread for the World from 1976-84 and is the co-founder of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights. He has been a board member of the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, New Ways Ministry, Witness for Peace, and Fellowship of Reconciliation.
Mary Hanna of Lansing, MI has been the Operations Manager for Meta Peace Team (MPT) since 2005, where she coordinates both MPT’s Violence De-escalation Skills Training program and their Internship program. She has served on both international (Palestine/Israel, U.S./Mexico Border) and domestic peace teams (those within the U.S). A member of the Pax Christi Michigan State Council since 1989, she became the State Coordinator in 2015. Mary is committed to compassionate, assertive nonviolence, social justice, creative peacemaking, and the spiritual underpinnings that make it all possible.
Phyllis Turner Jepson of West Palm Beach, FL is a long-time peace activist and member of Pax Christi USA. She has served as the coordinator of Pax Christi Palm Beach and Pax Christi Florida and also served on PCUSA’s National Council. In 1996, Phyllis was hired by the national office to serve as coordinator and later director of Local/Regional Development. From 2004-2006 she assumed the position of PCUSA’s Program Director. During her 10 years at the national office, Phyllis and her husband Milton traveled across the country visiting all of PCUSA’s regional offices and many of their local chapters. She also traveled to Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp on peace missions. Phyllis was instrumental in establishing Holy Ground PBC, a non-profit shelter program for homeless, pregnant, and parenting young mothers and their children in Palm Beach County where she has served as Executive Director. Phyllis currently serves on the regional council of Pax Christi Florida. She has been married to her husband for 56 years, has three grown children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Judith Kelly of Arlington, VA has worked with the Peace Corps and many solidarity groups, including Pace e Bene, Witness for Peace, and Witness Against Torture. She’s been arrested 28 times for civil resistance; in 2003 she went to federal prison for an SOA Watch action at Ft. Benning, home of the SOA/WHINSEC. In 2014, Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore named her Peacemaker of the Year. More recently, Judith researched the life of martyred Solidarity chaplain Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko for her book, Just Call Me Jerzy: Popiełuszko in the United States and Canada. (See justcallmejerzy.com.)
Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB (deceased) was a member of Pax Christi since the founding assembly in 1973, served for several years as chair of the National Council, and served as the National Coordinator from 1985 to 1991. She was a poet and an author of numerous books, including Between Two Souls: Conversations with Ryokan and The Nonviolent Moment: A Spirituality for the 21st Century. Mary Lou served as the Executive Director of the Alliance for International Monasticism and started the Inner-City Neighborhood Art House in Erie, PA. In 2006, she was named the recipient of Pax Christi USA’s Teacher of Peace Award.
Ray LaPort (deceased) grew up in the small city of Lockport, N.Y., and served in the Army in the Pacific at New Guinea and the Philippines. After retiring, he began to volunteer with the American Red Cross and then worked as a driver for the Lift program, transporting mentally and physically incapacitated people of all ages. While doing this work, he became involved with the local Pax Christi group in Erie and soon became a volunteer at the national office. In 1995, Ray committed civil disobedience at the School of the Americas in Columbus, Ga., and was arrested and imprisoned. Ray was also involved with Hospice, Veterans for Peace, and the Erie Benedictines.
Eric LeCompte of Washington, D.C. is the Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network and represents a civil society coalition of 75 U.S. member organizations, 200 faith communities and 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee USA Network has won critical global financial reforms and more than $100 billion in debt relief for the world’s poorest countries so the money could be reinvested in social infrastructure. He serves on expert working groups to the United Nations Committee on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the UN High Commission on Human Rights. Eric is a graduate of the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, where he received degrees in Peace Studies and Sociology. He is the former National Council Chair of Pax Christi USA.
Bishop Raymond Lucker (deceased) spent his lifetime devoted to renewal of the Church in religious education. He was a pioneer in the U.S. catechetical renewal, helping the nationwide development of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and the National Conference of Diocesan Directors. He was a delegate to the International Catechetical Congress in Rome in 1971 and was elected by the Bishops of the United States as a delegate to the Synod in 1977. Bishop Lucker was a long-time member of Pax Christi USA, and president of Pax Christi Minnesota.
Antonia (Tonie) Malone (deceased) served on the National Council for six years and was one of the founders of Pax Christi New Jersey. She served for many years as the Coordinator of Pax Christi New Jersey and participated in the Cry for Justice nonviolent accompaniment project in Haiti after the coup of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide. Tonie served as an associate editor of the Catholic Peace Voice, Pax Christi’s quarterly publication, and trained teachers in conflict resolution.
Sr. Anne McCarthy, OSB of Erie, PA coordinates Benedictines for Peace in Erie, PA and is active in a number of local coalitions addressing climate, peace and policy for racial justice. A former National Coordinator of Pax Christi USA (1991-1994), she leads retreats on nonviolence, Benedictine spirituality, feminism and contemplative sitting prayer. On staff with Benetvision and Monasteries of the Heart, she is also one of the nurses for her monastic community. After living in a small Catholic Worker house in Erie, she enjoys gardening with children in a small neighborhood garden.
Colman McCarthy, of Washington, D.C. is a former columnist with The Washington Post, and has written for several magazines, including The New Yorker and The Progressive. Colman directs the Center for Teaching Peace, a non-profit organization that helps schools establish peace studies programs. He is the author of I’d Rather Teach Peace.
Megan McKenna, of Albuquerque, New Mexico is a longtime member of Pax Christi USA and served six years on the National Council. Megan travels the world preaching the Scriptures, telling stories and listening to the words of the Spirit loose in all the lands and peoples of the world. Megan has also written many books, including Words of Fire, Mary Mother of All Nations: Icons, Mary of Mystery: Poems, and Send My Roots Rain.
Sr. Jane Morrissey, SSJ of Springfield, MA of Pax Christi Massachusetts, reflects: “In my eighth decade of life, I regularly recognize more clearly that one otherwise forgettable sentence heard in my youth on a sunny day propelled me to become an ambassador of peace. I was hanging wet clothes and sheer curtains on the clothesline when my mother, in response to hearing squabbling in the back yard while lunching with friends at the dining room table, left her friends. She stood at a distance from her children, and interrupted our fracas, with familiar words: ‘Jesus said …’ A lengthy pause followed before she completed the sentence with His Beatitude, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ The New England Catholic Peace Fellowship, Pax Christi USA, Campaign Nonviolence, and the Sisters of Saint Joseph’s charism and mission to love God and neighbor ‘without distinction’ wherever we may be, have continued to echo and deepen my own family’s call to live the Gospel with and for the sake of all God’s children.”
Joseph (Joe) Nangle, OFM of Washington, D.C., a member of the Franciscan Province of the Most Holy Name, was a missionary to Bolivia and founding pastor of Most Holy Name Parish, Lima, Peru. After he returned to the U.S., his roles included staff member of the Office for International Justice and Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; director of the Justice and Peace Office, Conference of Major Superiors of Men; staff member at Sojourners magazine; and director of the Franciscan Mission Service, a lay overseas mission program. He currently serves as Associate Pastor for Hispanic Ministries at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Arlington, VA. Joe is a founding member of Assisi Community, Washington, D.C., an intentional community of lay men and women, religious and priests living in two inner-city row houses and dedicated to simplicity of life and social change.
Kathy O’Leary of Millington, NJ is a graduate of St. Elizabeth University where she studied Art, which she incorporates often in her work as a peacemaker. In the early 2000s, after the invasion of Iraq, she was drawn to Pax Christi USA, founded a local group, and began helping to organize regular peace vigils in Summit, NJ where she was living at the time. In 2007, she began focusing on the issue of immigration detention. She has since written and contributed to reports, articles, and op-eds on ICE detention, organized local, state-wide and regional protests and vigils, and offered testimony to state legislative committees. She has spoken to numerous groups including churches and civic organizations and has been invited to speak at local high schools and colleges. She was a member of the board of First Friends, an organization that visits people in ICE detention and advocates for humane immigration policy, and served for a time as its vice president. She has represented Pax Christi NJ in a number of coalitions including New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees, New Jersey for the Philippine Human Rights Act and New Jersey Prison Justice Watch. She was also previously the chair of the “Peace Pillar” and a member of the retreat team at the Shrine of St. Joseph in Stirling where she helped design and organize events and retreats which often focused on reconciliation and healing. She currently serves as the region coordinator for New Jersey.
Beatrice Parwatikar, of St. Louis, MO is a former member of the Pax Christi USA National Council and a founding member of Pax Christi USA’s anti-racism team. She is a published writer including the author of Hoping, Seeking and Demanding Justice: Reflections for Advent 2004. She is a board member of the Maryknoll Lay Missioners and serves on the National Black Catholic Congress’ Social Justice Commission. She is a member Pax Christi Burlington, INCITE (Women of Color Against Violence), and considers St. Louis Abbey her spiritual home. Beatrice is a pastoral associate, workshop presenter and facilitator.
Fr. Chris Ponnet of Los Angeles, CA is the pastor of the St. Camillus for spiritual care center and administrator of Urban Interfaith Chaplaincy Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE accredited school for training professional chaplains) based at the LAC USC Medical Center. Fr. Chris was ordained a Catholic priest in 1983. He has been Director of the Department of Spiritual Care at the USC Medical Center for the past 28 years. Born and raised in Temple City, Fr. Chris is active in the interfaith social justice community in Southern California and some national justice movements, and previously served on the Pax Christi USA National Council.
Kathleen Pruitt, CSJP of Seattle, Washington is a former Chair of the National Council and served as a vice president of the Executive Committee of Pax Christi International. She has been a bridge-builder between Pax Christi sections around the world and continues to integrate the spirituality of nonviolence with the work of Pax Christi worldwide. Kathleen is the Province leader of Our Lady of Province of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace.
Barbara Richardson of West Palm Beach, FL is the mother of six, grandmother of 13, and great-grandmother of 11. She has been involved in social and justice issues most of her life. As a nurse, she worked in hospitals, mental health facilities, and addiction treatment centers, and then worked alongside Phyllis Jepson at the PCUSA Local/Regional office for six years. She currently serves on the board of an organization focused on people who are homeless, young women and their children.
Olga Sarabia of Pasadena, CA, originally from the Dominican Republic, came to the U.S. for high school in Michigan at St Mary Academy of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters. She went on to a Bachelor of Science degree and Master in Social Work (MSW) at Loyola University of Chicago. Olga served on Pax Christi’s National Council from 2004-2010. She was a member of the first Pax Christi Anti-Racism Team (PCART) in 2000 and worked with the team until 2006, assisting in revamping Pax Christi’s Policies and Procedures to reflect a multiracial philosophy in its mission and vision. Concurrently she served on PCART’s two-day anti-racism trainings of state and regional Pax Christi groups. She served as a member of the Southern CA Pax Christi Leadership Team from 2015-2021. She considers her professional work to have been justice and peace driven, serving four years as a community organizer with Catholic Community Services’ War on Poverty Program in an East Los Angeles Housing Project of mostly Latino residents and subsequently four years as a Clinical Social Worker in Public Health and 25 years in LA County Hospital social work administration. She served as a Commissioner in the City of Alhambra Housing & Community Development Committee and the LA County Commission of Older Adults. Olga is a 27-year Associate of the Sisters of Social Service and has served on several committees of that religious community.
Nancy Small, of Upton, Massachusetts is a former national coordinator of Pax Christi USA. She holds an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary in New York with a concentration in Church and Society and is a certified spiritual director. She was the director of Pax Christi Metro New York from 1991-96, and served on the Pax Christi USA National Council from 1992-95. With Pax Christi, Nancy has worked with a variety of issues in the areas of spirituality of nonviolence, including conflict resolution, disarmament, and economic justice. Nancy’s commitment to justice began during her years as a Jesuit Volunteer when she witnessed poverty first-hand as a pastoral minister and as a legal advocate in public assistance and landlord/tenant matters. Pax Christi USA received the 1997 Call to Action award for its singular contribution to raising Catholic consciousness on issues of war and peace and the challenge to live nonviolently.
Pearlette Springer of Indianapolis, IN is the fifth child born to Finis and Garfield Springer and is the mother of one son, Michel Anthony, who entered eternal life in 2021. She is also the sister to five brothers and two sisters, and the aunt to six nieces, 16 nephews, 26 grandnieces and grandnephews, and one great-nephew. She holds an undergraduate degree in African and African American Studies from Indiana University Northwest; a graduate degree in Theology from the University of St. Francis in Northeast Indiana; a graduate degree in philosophy from Walden University; and is working towards a doctorate in Family Studies and Strategic Interventions from Walden University. Currently she works for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis as the coordinator of Black Catholic Ministry. She is also the team leader of Pax Christi USA’s Anti-Racism Team, a member of the Justice Coordinating Commission with the Sisters of Providence in Terre Haute, IN, the National Association of Black Catholic Administrators, and the Black Catholic Theological Symposium. Pearlette’s passion lies in the intersection of social justice and racial diversity grounded in the historical truth of the Gospel.
Jean Stokan of Mt. Rainier, MD joined the national staff of Pax Christi USA soon after September 11, 2001; she opened the Washington, D.C. office and served as policy director for seven years. She represented Pax Christi USA in interfaith and secular efforts to prevent, and then end, the U.S. war in Iraq, and in Pax Christi International activities, including to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She coordinated the People’s Peace Initiative, engaging other Catholic networks in Pax Christi USA’s work, participated in the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative’s first gathering in Rome in 2016, and served several terms on PCUSA’s National Council, including as vice-chair. Currently, Jean serves on the Justice Team for the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, as well as on the Board of SHARE Foundation and the faith council of the Poor People’s Campaign. She has worked on issues of human rights in Latin America, immigration reform, and has led many dozens of delegations to El Salvador, Honduras, and the US-Mexico border. She is married to Scott Wright; their daughter, Maura, is named for Maryknoll martyr Sr. Maura Clarke; and they are part of the extended Assisi community in Washington, D.C.
Bishop Walter Sullivan (deceased) was the second bishop-president of Pax Christi USA and served as the Bishop of the Diocese of Richmond, Va. Bishop Sullivan was a national leader of the religious community’s involvement in the work of justice and peace. He served on the boards of Christian Children’s Fund (based in Richmond), the Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy in Washington, D.C., the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, the Catholic Committee of Appalachia, and numerous diocesan boards. He served on the board of the National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities and on the administrative board of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Gerard Vanderhaar (deceased) was a founding member of Pax Christi USA, a professor of religion and peace studies at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, and a member of the ‘Alternatives to Violence’ commission of Pax Christi USA. He wrote many books, including Personal Nonviolence: A Practical Spirituality for Peacemakers, and Beyond Violence: In the Spirit of the Nonviolent Christ, which won the Pax Christi USA Book Award in 1998.
Janice Vanderhaar, of Memphis, Tennessee, a member of Pax Christi since 1973, served two terms on the PCUSA National Council and coordinated the Pax Christi-Memphis chapter. She helped found and has served on the boards of the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, and the Gerard A. Vanderhaar Symposium. She and her husband Gerry were staff members at the International Peace Center in Antwerp, Belgium in 1979-80. She was a social worker with the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association in Memphis for 16 years. She received (with Gerry) the Bishop Dozier Award for Peace and Justice from Christian Brothers University, was named “50 Women Who Make a Difference” in Memphis, received the “Catherine of Siena” award for peace and justice from the St. Catherine Dominicans of Kentucky, and was recognized by Muslims of Memphis for her contributions to interfaith dialogue in 2007.
Cathy Woodson of Richmond, VA is a former member of Pax Christi USA’s Anti-Racism team and former chair of the National Council; she has contributed to Pax Christi USA’s Advent reflection booklets. She worked 20 years as a social justice organizer with a statewide nonprofit working in Virginia communities, and was honored to be able to work with organizers and the Roma communities in Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovakia with a focus on racial justice. She continues working in the justice ministry of her parish in Richmond, VA, and is a member of the Wisdom Circle and leadership team with Virginia Catholics for Racial Justice.
Scott Wright of Mt. Rainier, MD is a member of Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore, served on the Pax Christi USA national council, and participated in Pax Christi International consultations to Latin American and the Caribbean. He is the author of Just Peacemaking Initiative: The Challenge and Promise of Nonviolence for Our Time, a collaboration between JustFaith Ministries and Pax Christi USA. He has worked with survivors of war and torture, and with immigrants and refugees for many years, and traveled to Iraq, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Israel and Palestine, Central America, Colombia and Haiti with delegations for peace. He worked for eight years in El Salvador during the civil war as part of pastoral teams of accompaniment in areas of conflict and is the author of Oscar Romero and the Communion of Saints. He also served as the director of the St. Columban Mission for Justice, Peace and Ecology in Washington, D.C. and the Columban Mission Center on the U.S.–Mexico border. He lives with his wife and companion Jean Stokan and their daughter Maura.
Mary Yelenick of New York, NY, a member of the Pax Christi USA Anti-Racism Team since 2016, also previously served on the Pax Christi USA Development Committee. For several years, Mary has led the Pax Christi International NGO Team at the United Nations. At the UN, Mary has focused on peace-building and on nuclear disarmament, including work leading up to the historic 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as an active member of the Nobel Prize-winning International Coalition for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. Mary, who is also a member of the board of Pax Christi International, was privileged to attend the 2017 Vatican conference on nuclear abolition, as well as the 2019 meeting in Rome of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative. In addition to previously serving on the board of Pax Christi Metro New York, Mary served for several years as board chair of NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. Mary practiced law for many years as a litigation partner in the New York office of an international law firm before retiring to focus exclusively on peace-and-justice issues.
Gordon Zahn (deceased) was a well-known Catholic peace activist, and founding member of Pax Christi USA. Gordon was a conscientious objector in World War II and authored several books dealing with conscientious objectors: German Catholics and Hitler’s Wars; In Solitary Witness: The Life and Death of Franz Jaegerstaetter; and Another Part of the War: The Camp Simon Story, which is an account of his own conscientious objection experience.