Local News Archive
Print Issue: January 20, 1994
Pax Christi Aims At Nonviolent Life
By Paula Day
Daily news reports and personal experience reinforce the fear that violence is epidemic in todays society.
One local Catholic group, though few in number, is taking action to reduce violence. Its members begin by practicing nonviolence in their own hearts and minds and lives.
Twelve people from Pax Christi Atlanta publicly renewed vows of nonviolence during a Jan. 1 Mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Atlanta. Pax Christi Atlanta is part of an international Catholic organization dedicated to fostering peace by practicing the beatitudes taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
Father Richard Kieran, pastor of IHM and a member of the group, concluded his homily during the Mass on the World Day of Peace by saying, I have struggled with my role as peacemaker for years. I have gradually come to believe that the only way I can be faithful to the Gospel is to embrace nonviolence. So I attempt to live the vow of nonviolence proposed by Pax Christi, the international Catholic peace movement for all believers.
Each member vows in part to carry out in my life the love and example of Jesus by striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life, by accepting suffering rather than inflicting it; by refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence; by persevering in nonviolence in tongue and heart...
On a daily basis when I drive to work and someone cuts me off in traffic or slows me down, member Czech Kozel said, Im annoyed. My natural tendency is to slam on the horn -- to get back.
The IHM parishioner and Pax Christi member says the vow, a copy of which she keeps on her desk at the Gwinnett mental health facility where she works, keeps her focused. It has helped me become more patient, tolerant, to let others have the right-of-way, give them the benefit of the doubt.
John Goode, a member of the Pax Christi group at St. Judes parish in Sandy Springs, works at the Shrine of the Immaculate Heart shelter every Thursday night. His post at the door keeping tabs on those entering has tested his vow of nonviolence.
Ive put myself between men (to stop violence) and had someone take me by the shirt collar. I dont know how I would respond in a serious confrontation, but hopefully, Im making progress.
Goode believes the nonviolent attitude will take time to permeate society. He sees hope in the fact that his two-year-old grandson is raised without threats of violent punishment if he doesnt behave.
In spite of efforts to interest others in the organization, Pax Christis numbers remain small. Ms. Kozel estimates 20 make up the core group. But those who participate feel its importance and arent discouraged, Goode said.
Members attended the Mass celebrating the birth of Dr. Martin Luther Kind, Jr. offered by Archbishop John F. Donoghue Jan. 15 and plan to observe the day of fast and prayer for peace in Bosnia Jan. 23 requested by Pope John Paul II.
At their Feb. 13 meeting at IHM they will plan a Lenten nonviolent activity. The group meets the second Sunday of every month at 7:30 p.m. in the IHM rectory offices, 2855 Briarcliff Road, in Atlanta. All are welcome.