22 January 2021, The Tablet

Peace Sunday marked by Pax Christi

Peace Sunday marked by Pax Christi

Peace Sunday celebrations last weekend included peace liturgies, children’s activities, a Twitter storm, and an online national prayer service. The service on Saturday evening was led by Pax Christi England and Wales vice-president Pat Gaffney. Chair Ann Farr took around 160 participants through prayers for those who work to bring peace to situations of conflict. There was a reading from the World Peace Day 2021 Message from Pope Francis, A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace.

The UK Bishops were thanked for their recent statement on the nuclear weapons ban treaty coming in next week and Pax Christi will be lobbying the UK government to sign it.

Participants included well-known peace campaigners Bruce Kent, Valerie Flessati, Chris Cole and Virginia Moffatt and Fr Rob Esdaile. Religious included the Presentation Sisters, Sisters of St Joseph of Peace, and Columban missionaries. National Justice and Peace Network members represented included the dioceses of Westminster, Birmingham, Clifton, East Anglia, Hallam, Middlesbrough, Northampton, Portsmouth, and Wrexham. There was delight that Zoughbi Alzoughbi of the Wi’am reconciliation centre in Bethlehem joined.

A message calling for more attention to Christian nonviolence was sent by Loreto Sister  Teresia Wamuyu Wachira, a Pax Christi co-president from Kenya. We heard other messages sent by video from around the world. “'Nonviolence is a way of life” said Jean Baptiste Talla of Catholic Relief Services in Cameroon. “Nonviolence is repair” said Sarah Thompson, former Executive Director Christian Peacemaker Teams. “We are building the beloved community” suggested Christina Leano of the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

Leeds Justice and Peace plus the Pax Christi group in Leeds also organised an online service, Pathways to Peace, last Sunday with around 50 participants. There were poignant photos of Earthrise from the Apollo Mission of 1968. The images of Earth from the moon changed human consciousness as they highlighted the beauty of our home planet and its vulnerability. The scale of poverty in Britain was lamented, along with the government’s cut in overseas aid while maintaining expenditure on weapons.

Hymns included Peace Prayer by John Foley, sung by the music group at Holy Name parish, Leeds, and City of God by Dan Shutte SJ, sung by St Benedict's Music Group, Garforth. A reading from St Oscar Romero suggested, “you have to encourage the good that is done in the world and emphatically denounce the evil."

The dioceses of Brentwood, Birmingham, Northampton, Portsmouth and Westminster were among those actively promoting Peace Sunday on their social media. Bishop David Oakley from Northampton Diocese wrote: “Peace Sunday is an opportunity for all of us to reflect upon this great fruit of God's Spirit. Jesus teaches us in the Beatitudes, Blessed are the Peacemakers… no disciple of Jesus is exempted.” 

Parishes around England and Wales with Pax Christi members were particularly active. Blackfriars in Oxford had a message in its weekend newsletter from Prior Fr Robert Gay, reminding that Peace Sunday is “a day set aside for prayer and action towards world peace”. He added that, “Pope Francis calls us to recall the common good in all our social, political and economic activities; to live in solidarity with others, to care for our common home, to prioritise resources towards building peace, and to educating people to positively embrace a culture of care.” In nearby Abingdon, Anne Dodd, a former chair of Pax Christi, gave a talk at the main morning Mass where she reflected on “the centrality of peacemaking and reconciliation to what we profess as Catholics”. Standing behind a lecturn displaying the world ‘Peace’ in various languages she urged financial support for Pax Christi.

St Wilfrid’s in Preston, Lancaster Diocese, displayed their usual Peace Tree on Peace Sunday, decorated with doves, symbolic of peace, carrying the names of countries to be prayed for during services.


See more about Peace Sunday here: https://paxchristi.org.uk/peace-sunday-2021/.


Support the work of Pax Christi here: https://paxchristi.org.uk/about-us/support-us/donation/




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