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Peacemaking through the Arts, February 8, 2015

For several years now, PCMNY has been promoting peace with the help of the performing arts. On February 8th, 2015, we are pleased to be hosting Etty, a one-woman play about Etty Hillesum. Etty was a young Dutch Jewish woman living in Amsterdam during World War II who, like Anne Frank, came to be known through her writings. She wrote the life she was living—her loves, her work, her wry sense of humor, her deep sensuality, and her moment in history. She hoped to be among the spiritual and intellectual architects of the world that would emerge after the war. She asks us to consider our own responsibility today, in a world where the promise of “never again” has not yet been realized. Etty challenges us to rethink questions of resistance, responsibility, and humanity. Susan Stein will perform and lead a discussion in St. Joseph’s Church, Greenwich Village, starting at 2:30 PM. Visit to learn more about the play. Reserve your space now by contacting the PCMNY office or going to Seats are $25 in advance, $30 at the door and $15 with a student ID. Also contact the PCMNY office if you or your organization would like to be a co-sponsor.


Annual Events


Annual Retreat
Each year, PCMNY hosts a retreat to invite members and friends to take some time away to pray, grow spiritually, and be inspired to return home to do the work of peacebuilding. From February 28th to March 2nd, 2014, Sr. Kathleen Deignan, CND led us on our retreat at the St. Joseph’s Renewal Center in Brentwood, Long Island. Blending her passions, her retreat theme was "Pax Christi/Pax Terra: Thomas Merton and Thomas Berry in Dialogue on Making Peace with Earth." Fifty-one retreatants were blessed by the experience.

Ash Wednesday Leafleting
Our tradition on Ash Wednesday is to offer a Lenten Reflection to the faithful outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral. On Ash Wednesday, 2014, six PCMNY members distributed 1500 leaflets to the faithful receiving ashes. Click here to read this year’s Reflection.

Good Friday Way of the Cross
PCMNY is probably best known for its Good Friday Way of the Cross, which was its founding event. Our 32nd consecutive Good Friday Way of the Cross, commemorating Jesus' suffering in His own life and in the lives of people throughout the world today, took place on April 18th, 2014. Hundreds processed together, praying for change in ourselves and a society marred by such sins as poverty, racism, bullying and gun violence, human trafficking and war.  Concluding with a 15th Station, we were reminded that we are a Resurrection people in a Good Friday world. Plan to be with us and pray with us at our 33rd Way of the Cross on April 3rd, 2015.

Peacemaker Awards Reception
Each year PCMNY honors peacemakers, some known nationally, some known locally, and some known mostly within the Pax Christi community, but all doing noteworthy work to make the world a more peaceful and just place for all of us to live. We honor these exemplary people at a reception that is a true celebration of them and the peace community that supports them. On Sunday, June 1st
, 2014, our Peacemaker Award Reception honored Sandy Hook Promise for their work against gun violence, the Carmelite Commission for Peace, Justice, and the Integrity of Creation for its ministries to people in need and for social change, and Sr. Jean Fallon, MM, for her work in support of nuclear weapons abolition and Palestinian rights. We enjoyed the beautiful music of Jeff Smith (our gifted Good Friday flutist) and friends Frank Lalley and Dorothy Valla. We feasted on hot and cold hors d'oevres, cookies, wine and soft drinks. And we "gave peace a chance" with a variety of raffles and prizes.

40-Day Fast for Christian Nonviolence
Pax Christi Metro New York joins others around the country in an annual fast for Christian Nonviolence. This fast is an opportunity to remember, repent, and resolve to transform our culture of violence, whether the violence of the street or the violence of war, drones, and nuclear weapons proliferation. It begins each July 1st and ends on August 9th, the tragic triple anniversaries of the executions of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), Jewish convert to Catholicism and holocaust victim; Blessed Franz Jaegerstaetter, martyr for refusing to serve in Hitler's army; and the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, the largest Christian community in Japan. PCMNY frames it with prayers made available for you to pray alone or in community. For more information about the fast, contact the PCMNY office: or, when the Fast approaches simply sign up as an individual or group to fast a day, a week, or longer between July 1st and August 9th to end the horror of nuclear weapons proliferation and all forms of violence. Let the PCMNY office know your chosen day(s) and date(s).

Hiroshima/Nagasaki Memorial
Each year PCMNY offers this commemorative event to mourn and repent for the horrific loss of life caused by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945 and to advocate for the abolition of nuclear weapons today. Now, we can add Fukushima to the list of Japanese cities devastated by nuclear tragedy. This year’s Memorial featured the film, The Ultimate Wish: Ending the Nuclear Age, with a discussion led by co-producer, Dr. Kathleen Sullivan. It took place on Sunday, August 3rd, starting at 2:30 PM in Casserly Hall, St. Joseph’s Greenwich Village Church. A silent procession and public vigil followed.

Summer Picnic
PCMNY’s annual pot-luck picnic has become a refreshing tradition that brings together members and friends in a spirit of invaluable camaraderie. Our most recent picnic brought together 10 people who delighted in the comfortable weather, a delicious assortment of foods, and great conversation. We gathered in Central Park in view of the majestic Metropolitan Museum of Art, behind the Temple of Dendur. Plan to join us at our next picnic in 2015.

UN International Peace Day
The UN International Peace Day has been held on September 21st  for decades now, but so many people still aren't familiar with it; yet, it's such an important day.  Not only is it a day for the United Nations to renew its dedication to the pursuit of peace; it is also a Day of Ceasefire, both personally and politically.  In 2014, we celebrated the actual day with the People’s Climate March, but continued the recognition on Sunday, October 5th, when John Kim, UN Representative for Fellowship of Reconciliation, spoke on "Ending U.S. War in Korea: from Armistice to Peace."

Fall Assembly
On Saturday, November 8th, Pax Christi Metro New York hosted its annual Fall Assembly at the Convent of Mary the Queen in Yonkers. This year’s theme was “The Joy of the Gospel: The Peace Passages.” Author and editor Margaret O’Brien Steinfels led us in a discussion of Pope Francis’s teachings on peace as found in his inspiring encyclical, Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel. In addition to this stimulating afternoon presentation, we dedicated the morning to a reflection on PCMNY’s very identity as a peace community. We prayed together, shared our stories, and lent each other support. We hope you’ll join us at our next Fall Assembly in 2015.

Feast of the Holy Innocents
Each year, Pax Christi Metro New York remembers victims of violence, especially children, in honor of the Feast of the Holy Innocents. The focus of the event is a prayer service. It may also include speakers or a video on a relevant topic like human trafficking or incarceration.


Featured Recent Event

Holy Innocents-Human Rights Day

by Rosemarie Pace,  PCMNY Director

Because the Feast of Holy Innocents, December 28th, fell on a Sunday in 2014, it did not appear on the liturgical calendar. Consequently, Pax Christi Metro New York chose to hold its annual service for victims of violence, especially children, on Human Rights Day, December 10th. Bringing the two days together, we chose the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child as our inspiration, and we invited staff from Hour Children to speak to us about their important work serving the children of incarcerated mothers and the mothers, themselves.

We began the evening with pizza, soft drinks, and some sweets, which set a warm and welcoming tone of community. Then we prayed. Our service included some of the Principles from the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child followed by real-world examples of how they are not being respected in places like Honduras, Gaza, and the U.S.A. After each sobering reading, we joined in a prayer response. We also sang, accompanied by guitar and harp (Come to the Water) and flute (God of Day and God of Darkness). The final message of the service, despite its somberness, was one of hope (Jeremiah 29:11-14) and a blessing from the Children’s Sabbath to go forth “knowing that you are a precious child of God…to cherish every child of God [and] to protect and seek justice for children.”

Jeff Smith
Finally, we were privileged to hear Jeff Smith and Kellie Phelan report on the important and amazing work of Hour Children. Jeff spoke with tremendous enthusiasm and deserving pride about all the services that Hour Children provides the children of incarcerated mothers and all the ways Hour Children assists their mothers both in prison and when they are released. He informed us of such statistics as:


·         Almost 70,000 children have a parent in a NYS prison.

·         2,500 women are incarcerated in a NYS prison.

·         70% of women in prison have children.

·         More than 80% of the women served by Hour Children have a childhood history of physical and sexual abuse.

Hour Children strives to strengthen the bonds between mother and children in and out of prison. It provides children with transportation to visit their mothers. In prison, it provides warm and nurturing spaces for mother and children to interact. It also provides the mothers with parenting education. Outside of prison, it runs mentoring, early learning, after-school, and teen programs for the children. When mothers are released from prison, Hour Children has housing and other support services to help the women get back on their feet and to re-establish a solid sense of family with their offspring.

Kellie’s presentation was much more personal for, though she is on the staff of Hour Children now, she was one of those incarcerated mothers about seven years ago. Kellie dropped out of school quite young. In time, she became a teen mom who eventually gave in to the drug culture. Loving her daughter, she made the hard but wise choice to put her daughter in the care of a family member. But it was years and another daughter before she turned her life around. Pregnant and addicted, Kellie landed in jail. There, folks from Hour Children visited her and offered her shelter upon her release. She was both excited by the idea and very skeptical that she would ever see those people again. Her baby was due to arrive after release from prison, but the baby came early, which turned out to be a blessing. The folks from Hour Children did return and informed Kellie that they had a room waiting for her and her baby. When she saw it, she couldn’t believe her eyes; it was so beautiful. Hour Children helped Kellie transform her life. She now has a wonderful relationship with both her daughters, the father of her second child, and the community of Hour Children. She shares her story openly to inspire others, especially those who most need to hear it.

We at PCMNY were certainly inspired by both Jeff and Kellie and grateful to them for their witness. You can learn more about Hour Children and ways to help their ministry by visiting their website: (



Pax Christi Metro New York © 2015

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