By: Ellen Teague
Pax Christi, at its London AGM on Saturday, warmly thanked parishes in England and Wales who supported Peace Sunday in January, both praying for peace and raising a collection for the UK branch of the international Catholic movement for peace. Half of Pax Christi’s income is from the Peace Sunday collection and it was reported that this is crucial to funding four staff at the Hendon office, and a wide range of activities and resources promoting peace education and the Pope’s World Peace Day message.
584 parishes held a Pax Christi collection for Peace Sunday 2017. 70% of the Peace Sunday income comes from six dioceses, including Westminster, Southwark, Bimingham, and Arundel & Brighton, where 58 out of 85 parishes contributed. Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi, said she was “very grateful for this key income stream”.
Around 60 members at the AGM learnt that there have been thousands of visits to Pax Christi’s website this past year, and many new followers on twitter. 3,135 students participated in 80 schools workshop, and 120 teachers at professional development workshops. The Peace Education section of the website is increasingly popular, providing downloadable A-level lessons, GCSE ideas and assemblies, and stories of outstanding peacemakers. Pax Christi’s peace icon has toured the country, prompting reflection on reconciliation and peace and there is a growth of Peace Trails, celebrating landmarks with a peace connection. Participants were encouraged to start talking locally about how Remembrance Day 2018, the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1, might focus on building a future of peace.
Pax Christi's annual anti-nuclear weapons witness at London's Ministry of Defence on Ash Wednesday was spotlighted, along with the Hiroshima/Nagasaki remembrance in August and the annual Franz Jägerstätter service at Westminster on 9 August.
Pax Christi vice-president Bruce Kent regretted that the recent General Election statement from the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales has failed to mention nuclear weapons, particularly in view of British goverenment plans to spend more than £100 billion renewing the country’s Trident weapons system. “It’s an amazing gap” he lamented, to a round of applause endorsing his words.
The afternoon included an inspiring talk by Greet Vanaerschot of Pax Christi International, which is based in Brussels, and peace award presentations to Nan Saeki of Justice and Peace in Middlesbrough Diocese and Rev Nagase of the Battersea Peace Pagoda. Interspersed were musical interludes from Percy Agget and Bob Peacey and a final liturgy urging a commitment to building a future of peace.
(Further reports to follow on ICN - and more pictures soon, on our Facebook page.)
For more information on Pax Christi see: http://paxchristi.org.uk/