At a packed meeting in Central London on Saturday, Pax Christi members and supporters honoured and acknowledged the work of six peacemakers of our time whose work spans from Northern Ireland to Iraq and the UK. Pax Christi instituted the award, given every two years, in 2001, to acknowledge the steadfast commitment of grass-roots peace work. Those receiving the award from Bishop Malcolm McMahon, President of Pax Christi, were Brian Wicker, Sr Lelia Newman op, Patricia and Michael Pulham, Tom Mallon and Milan Rai. Brian Wicker's involvement in Catholic peacemaking, with a particular focus on security and disarmament goes back 50 years. Brian is an active member of the Christian Council on Approaches to Defence and Disarmament and served for years on the Committee for International Justice and Peace of the Bishops' Conference. Most recently Brian initiated dialogue between Muslims and Christians, leading to a book entitled Witness to Faith? Martyrdom in Christianity and Islam. Sister Lelia Newman OP a retired teacher, has lived and worked in Belfast for the past 17 years where she has promoted understanding between different communities. She became involved with the regeneration of three communities in the Falls Road area, Belfast - Beechmount, Iveagh and Springfield, which led to the building of a community centre in the Beechmount area. Most recently Lelia took part in protests with others from Belfast at the nuclear submarine base in Faslane, Scotland. Patricia and Michael Pulham have over thirty years involvement with both Pax Christi and Christian CND - latterly playing an important role in the CCND executive committee. Their peacework has ranged from the production of education resources for churches on nuclear issues to organising acts of Christian witness at various nuclear sites such as Aldermaston and Faslane to encouraging others in peace and justice work parish and Diocese level. Tom Mallon, another peacemaker from Northern Ireland, initiated summer play schemes for children from the mid 1970s and helped to co-ordinate hospitality for many Pax Christi volunteers from around the world to work on these projects. This all happened during the most bloody and vicious period in Northern Ireland's 'troubles'. Thanks to Tom Mallon and others, bridges were built between the communities. Milan Rai 's work is a powerful witness to active nonviolence. As a co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness UK, he was instrumental in putting the impact of the sanctions on Iraq before the peace movement and on the political agenda. His visit to Iraq, during the time of the sanctions provided evidence of the madness of UK and US policies. Following the September 11th 2001 attack Mil helped establish the organisation 'Justice not Vengeance', taking on the causes of Afghanistan, Iraq and recently Iran. He has published books including 'War Plan Iraq' and more recently 'July Bombings' to look at the reasons for the violence being generated in our name. Those at the meeting also heard of Pax Christi's strengthened work in the area of peace education and youth work through the appointment of Hilary Topp, education worker who presented the winning CD from a Pax Christi European contest Entitled "Mad World" it was produced by pupils of Finchley Catholic High school in London. Pax Christi also affirmed its commitment to continue its work in solidarity and support of partners in Palestine, especially during this year which marks the 40th anniversary of Israeli occupation. At a Mass celebrated by Bishop Malcolm former members of the movement were remembered, including Margot Hutchison who died on 14th June. Margot, from Birmingham, had been active with Pax Christi, CARJ, the National Board of Catholic Women and diocesan Justice and Peace work for more than thirty years. Source: Pax Christi
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