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”.
To read articles written by Ambassadors of Peace, click here.
AMBASSADORS OF PEACE
Named in 2022 as part of the 50th anniversary celebration:
- Fr. Chris Ponnet, Pax Christi Southern California, former Pax Christi USA National Council member
- Sr. Jean Fallon, MM, Pax Christi Metro New York
- Pearlette Springer, current chair of the Pax Christi Anti-Racism Team, former Pax Christi USA National Council chair
- Cathy Woodson, former Pax Christi USA National Council chair
- Mary Hanna, Pax Christi Michigan
- Barbara Richardson, former Pax Christi USA staff member, Pax Christi Florida
- Kathy O’Leary, Pax Christi New Jersey
- Judith Kelly, Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore
- Isaac Chandler, former Pax Christi National Council chair
- Olga Sarabia, former Pax Christi USA National Council member, Pax Christi Anti-Racism Team alumni, Pax Christi Southern California
- Jean Stokan, former Pax Christi USA staff member, former Pax Christi USA National Council member, Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore
- Scott Wright, former Pax Christi USA National Council member, Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore
- Ronaldo Cruz, former Pax Christi USA staff member, former Pax Christi USA National Council member
- Jo Clarke, former Pax Christi USA staff member
- Sr. Jane Morrissey, SSJ, Pax Christi Massachusetts
- Sr. Anne McCarthy, OSB, former Pax Christi USA National Coordinator
- Bob Cooke, Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore
- Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, former Pax Christi USA Executive Director
- Sr. Pegge Boehm, PBVM, Pax Christi South Dakota
- Mary Yelenick, Pax Christi International Board member, current member of the Pax Christi Anti-Racism Team
Previously named 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.
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 USCC committee that resulted in the original Call to Action conference in 1976.
Cathleen Crayton, of Claremont, California: Cathleen served on the Pax Christi National Council from 1998-2003, where she served as Vice Chair from 2001-2003. She is a co-founder of the Pax Christi Anti Racism Team. She is a charter member of her local Pax Christi group, Pax Christi Pomona Valley, and she has served in various leadership capacities at the regional level of Pax Christi Southern California. Cathy boasts many years of experience with community organizing with the East Valley’s Organization. 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.
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.
John Dear of Monterrey, CA: John 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.: Marie 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. She is a 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. Earlier she participated in peace delegations to Afghanistan, Israel-Palestine, El Salvador and Guatemala and 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: Doug 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): Eileen 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: Joseph 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.
Donna Grimes of Washington, D.C. is a former member of the Pax Christi USA National Council. She has authored PCUSA’s book of Advent reflections for 2005 entitled, 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. Ms. Grimes worked for the United States 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: Bishop Gumbleton is a noted speaker and writer, who’s columns appear regularly in the National Catholic Reporter. Bishop Gumbleton is the founding Bishop President 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.
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 ten 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.
Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB of Erie, Pennsylvania: Mary Lou has been a member of Pax Christi since the founding assembly in 1973 and served for several years as Chair of the National Council. She served as the National Coordinator from 1985 to 1991. She is 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. Mary Lou was named the recipient of Pax Christi USA’s Teacher of Peace Award in 2006.
Ray LaPort (deceased): Ray 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.: Eric 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 dollars 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 United Nations High Commission on Human Rights. Eric has 15 years of experience working with faith-based organizations to impact global policy on poverty, conflict and 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): Bishop Lucker spent his lifetime devoted to renewal of the Church in religious education. He was a pioneer in the American 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 Malone (deceased): Tonie 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.
Colman McCarthy, of Washington, D.C.: Colman 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: Megan 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.
Joseph Nangle, OFM of Washington, D.C.: Joe is a member of the Franciscan – Province of the Most Holy Name, New York City. He has been involved in urban ministry in Boston and New York City and was a missionary to Bolivia and founding pastor of Most Holy Name Parish, Lima, Peru. Joe was on staff at the Office for International Justice and Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and was the director for the Justice and Peace Office, Conference of Major Superiors of Men. Joe was a staff member and writer for Sojourners Magazine and the Director of the Franciscan Mission Service (lay overseas mission program). He is currently 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).
Beatrice Parwatikar, of Shoreham, Vermont: Beatrice 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.
Kathleen Pruitt, CSJP of Seattle, Washington: Kathleen 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.
Nancy Small, of Upton, Massachusetts: Nancy 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.
Bishop Walter Sullivan (deceased), of Richmond, Virginia: Bishop Walter Sullivan 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): Gerry 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, Janice 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 M.K. 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.
Gordon Zahn (deceased): Gordon 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.