Anniversary Celebration for the Christian Peace Education Fund

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, National President of Pax Christi, hosted an evening celebrating 35 years of the Christian Peace Education Fund. Archbishop Malcolm thanked all those who had contributed to the Fund through donations and legacies and acknowledged all the work of the Trustees and supporters who have maintained the Fund for 35 years.

CPEF Trustees with Archbishop Malcolm

The Fund was set up by Pax Christi to support its own peace education work and to ‘promote peace by means of meetings, lectures, seminars, the production of books and publications and lots more besides.’ Valerie Flessati, Pax Christi General Secretary when the fund was created, reflected on the difficulties experienced by schools and teachers at that time, when peace education was seen as suspect and one-sided. Pax Christi was determined to support teachers and educators in their work to help young people reflect critically on the world in which they lived.

Matt Jeziorski, Pax Christi’s current Peace Education Officer spoke of Pax Christi’s role in creating space within schools and work with teachers to allow time for discussion and discernment on difficult issues of war, peace and conflict and the Christian vocation to peacemaking.

The future challenge was set by James Trewby, the education worker for the Columban Missionaries. Imagination and collaboration were two of the key elements of this challenge, using approaches that engage young people beyond their own reality to create understanding and empathy and building networks and opportunities to mirror how many of the world’s problems today, war, poverty, climate issues, are interconnected Over the years grants have been given to more than 120 projects, including Peace Trails, school exchanges, conferences, dvd’s and study guides. The Movement for the Abolition of War had received grants towards their annual Peace History Conference. The Interfaith Wolverhampton hosted an exhibition and study day on the theme of forgiveness with the grant they received from CPEF. Most recently, St Paul’s School, Milton Keynes hosted a day for six schools on the theme of Faith in Action.

Download the brochure celebrating the achievements over 35 years of the Christian Peace Education Fund

Celebrating 35 Years of Peace Education

Peace Trails, school exchanges, peace history conferences, dvds and study guides are just some of the many project that have been funded by the Christian Peace Education Fund since it was established in 1982. Set up by Pax Christi to support its own peace education work the Fund also wanted to ‘promote peace by means of meetings, lectures, seminars,  the production of books and publications and lots more besides.’ All of this work will be celebrated at a gathering to be held in London on 2 November and hosted by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, National President of Pax Christi.

The background to the formation of the Christian Peace Education Fund – click image to enlarge

In 1985 the Fund supported an exchange visit of sixth form students from Leeds on a visit to Belfast. David Jackson, the teacher who coordinated the visit said, “They emerged from their short visit with some appreciation of the reality of sectarian conflict and its effects on families… they had a more empathetic approach to all those caught up in violence”. A Cambridge Peace Trail was created in 2013 by Pax Christi member Arn Dekker. “It has been successful and many visitors to Cambridge, as well as local residents, have used it to learn about people of peace and social justice who have a connection with this city.”

The Fund has also supported four Pax Christi peace education workers, the first was actually appointed in 1980. This work has flourished over the years and today Pax Christi produces high quality on-line educational resources on themes ranging from the vocation to peacemaking, the lives of contemporary peacemakers to peacemaking and conscience in times of war. With others Pax Christi facilitates INSET training days for teachers.

Direct contact with students and teachers is an important part of this work and Pax Christi’s education worker spends an average of 40 days a year in schools, offering workshops, seminars and talks on peacemaking.

At the launch on 2 November, guests will hear Pax Christi Vice President Valerie Flessati speak of the origins and aspirations of those who established the fund and from those who have benefited from the Fund. Most recent is the Faith in Action Day held in July at St Paul’s School in Milton Keynes. As well as offering financial support for this day, Pax Christi contributed with resources and workshops.

Faith in Action Day in Milton Keynes

Young people from around the region gathered at St Paul’s Catholic School for the first Northampton Diocesan Faith in Action Day.  Year 9 and 10 students from Thornton College in Thornton, St Thomas Becket in Northampton, St Thomas More in Bedford and Cardinal Newman in Luton joined pupils from St Paul’s to explore how, as Christians, we put our faith into action in our daily lives.

Bishop Peter Doyle speaks with the students

The Conference, organised jointly by St Paul’s, Pax Christi, and the Northampton Youth Ministry Office, began with pupils having the opportunity to ask questions of guest of honour, The Rt Revd Peter Doyle, Bishop of Northampton.  One pupil asked Bishop Peter “what makes you really fulfilled?” and his answer was “being open to God”.  They then participated in a series of workshops run by Columbans UK, Pax Christi, Young Christian Workers and Northampton Youth Ministry Office.

Jennifer Rowlands, RE Teacher at St Paul’s, said:  “We held our first St Paul’s Faith in Action Day last year and thought that this year it would be a great idea to open it up to other schools and build networks between local Catholic high schools in the Diocese.”

Aleksandra Wiencis, from St Paul’s Catholic School, said: “I liked the fact that we could connect with  students from other Catholic schools’ while Dominika Mazur, also from St Paul’s, said: ‘It was really fun. I enjoyed meeting other people from other schools and getting to know how they practice their faith.”

Delegates received conference packs which contained a variety of items including sunglasses, highlighters and chocolate bars.  They also took away a conference booklet that was full of practical ideas for putting faith into action.

Matt Jeziorski of Pax Christi added, “We have been delighted with the response to this first Diocesan Faith in Action Day. It has been so well supported by the schools, the enthusiasm of the students generated a wonderful atmosphere, and the hard work of the organising team has really paid off. We are already looking forward to next year.”


St Peter’s School walk for peace

Students from St Peter’s School in Guildford took part in a sponsored walk in support of the Christian Peace Education fund.

Sporting a variety of extravagant fancy-dress costumes the students walked eight miles and have raised in excess of £1200 so far.

Congratulations to all those who took part – and many thanks for your support!

There is still time to support the students’ efforts over on our JustGiving page.