Dennise Burgess of Pax Christi presented Bishop O'Dowd High School Junior Nicholas Desler with a $500 award for his multimedia slideshow on St. Mary's Center in Oakland.
Pax Christi awards BOD junior
for slideshow on peacemaking
Perhaps one of the favorite songs among Roman Catholics is "Peace Prayer of St. Francis" attributed to the beloved 13th Century Italian saint Francis of Assisi.
But it may be we're more comfortable singing the hymn during Mass, treasuring prayer cards inscribed with it or placing statues of St. Francis in our homes or gardens and leaving his actual peacemaking to others.
The 1,700 members of Pax Christi Northern California integrate peacemaking into day life through prayer, study, advocacy and action. To introduce this movement within the Church to a younger generation of Catholics, the regional council decided to offer a $500 prize to Catholic high school students throughout the seven northern California dioceses in which Pax Christi members reside. Drawing from the theme of this year's fall assembly "Building a Just Peace in a Conflicted World" the $500 prize was offered to a student who developed a multimedia project that best captured this theme.
Students were instructed to draw from Jesus' teachings of forgiveness, reconciliation and peacemaking, themes and practices from Catholic social teaching and from peacemakers outside the Catholic tradition like Martin Luther King, Jr, Mohandas Ghandi and others.
Nicholas Desler, a junior at Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, was selected as the winner. His project focused on St. Mary's Center, Oakland.
Nick saw "... the staff and volunteers as peacemakers ... who selflessly work on behalf of senior citizens and homeless people to improve conditions in their community." Desler believed one of the lessons students can learn is "...the imperative to stress to youth the importance of peace and service for our future depends upon this."
Regional council member Dennise Burgess, who helped organize and coordinate the contest, expressed similar sentiments of her colleagues: "By encouraging the contestants to research Scripture and church teaching, we hope they will better understand how, as Catholic Christians, we are called to work for peace in our communities, nation and world."
Pax Christi, founded after the ravages of World War II in Europe, was introduced in the United States in 1972 by a small group of Catholics including Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement. There are now more than 250 local and campus groups in the U.S.
For more information, see paxchristinorcal.org.
(Tom Webb is the regional coordinator of Pax Christi Northern California and staff member of the Oakland Catholic Worker.)
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