Respect Life Month
'Because someone has to say it'
Local Pax Christi group focuses on peace, justice
By Polly Zimmerman
'Renewing for the 21st Century:
God's Human Family'
Although the Cold War is over, the work of peace-making is far from completed. Kiernan Rozum of St. Mary Parish, Omro, knows that the continuing emphasis on milatarism casts a cloud over the poorest and youngest citizens of the world. That's why, 10 years ago, Rozum joined Pax Christi, an international peace movement. She also founded a parish unit at St. Peter Parish in Oshkosh, where she was an adult education leader. When she became affiliated with the Omro parish, the unit became Pax Christi Oshkosh/Omro.
"Pax Christi's goals are toward justice on every front," she says. "Our group exists to put into
action what they pray about."
Meetings alternate between the Omro church and homes of Oshkosh members. Various Oshkosh
churches, not all of them Catholic parishes, have hosted prayer services and vigils.
Sr. Pam Biehl, director of liturgy and ritual at St. Raphael Parish remembers a "powerful vigil"
which brought together more than 100 people for a memorial to Holocaust victims.
Other denominations, including members of the Fox Valley Mosque and Temple B'nai Israel, have
been invited to the monthly group meetings, prayer services and letter-writing campaigns.
During the seasons of Renew 2000, Pax Christi has made study materials, brochures and videos
available to the faith-sharing groups.
Last year, Pax Christi's study mateirals focused on closing the School of the Americas at Fort
Benning, Ga., which trained military officers for various countries. Many graduates have been
accused of contributing to terrorism and murder in Latin and Central America. The U.S. Army
agreed to close the school earlier this year, but it has since reopened -- funded by the Dept. of
Defense -- as the Institute for Professional Military Education and Training.
"There's so much frustration," says Rozum about their efforts, but adds that "we know that this
non-violent approach works."
Three members of the local group will attend a Nov. 3 conference in Milwaukee, "New Paradigms
for Peace-making in the 21st Century." It will help them outline their approach to Pax Christi's "Bread Not Stones" program, initiated by the U.S. bishops who are members of Pax Christi USA. It targets millitary spending in the national budget.
Pax Christi figures show that the U.S. spends only 12 cents on education for every dollar for the military.
"After the November meeting," Rozum says, "we'll decide what action we'll take to combat the military budget. This country exports all the instruments of war. That's difficult to say, but we say it because someone has to say it."
Other programs Pax Christi will focus on are racism in America, the death penalty, prison reform, an end to economic sanctions against Iraq and welfare reform.
Pax Christi was founded in France in 1945 and has a current U.S. membership of 14,000.
The next meeting of Pax Christi Oshkosh/Omro will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 9, at St. Mary Parish in Omro.
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