Updated: Oct 20
A report on Marianist Encounters and Pax Christi USA presentation at the Rooted and Grounded: A Conference on Land and Christian Discipleship (September 28-30, 2023), hosted by Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and co-sponsored by Bridgefolk, a Catholic and Mennonite grassroots movement.
Michelle Sherman, Pax Christi USA
Hazel Franco, Marianist Encounters
On Saturday, September 30, 2023, Michelle Sherman, Hazel and Savio Franco presented at the Rooted and Grounded Conference on Christian Land Discipleship. The theme of the three-day conference was "Pathways through Climate Doom: Resistance and Resilience." The conference was held at the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) and co-sponsored by Bridgefolk, a grassroots group of Mennonites and Catholics. Bridgefolk invited Michelle, Hazel, and Savio to share a presentation on Catholics working towards peace and environmental justice.
Kaitlin Curtice, an Indigenous Christian speaker, writer, and storyteller, was the keynote speaker for two conference sessions. She helped frame resistance as a relationship including communal and ancestral components. Resistance, Katilin explained, begins with curiosity asking questions. She noted that when we use the scientific definition of resistance, meaning a force that operates an opposite force, it can be the way we use our everyday lives as an opposing force to address the status quo and to build up a better way; this way disrupts capitalism and colonialism, which contributes to the disconnection from land and our bodies.
The Two Hands of Nonviolence: Resistance and Resilience as modeled through the Marianists and Pax Christi USA," by Michelle Sherman, Hazel, and Savio Franco.
Using the Two Hands of Nonviolence as a model of this year's themes of resistance and resilience, their workshop offered resources from the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, linking active nonviolence and global examples addressing the intersections of environmental justice, militarism, and racism. They shared examples from the Marianist Family Encounters Project, a multi-year journey initiated by the Marianist Family of the United States to respond to Pope Francis' calls to action in his encyclicals, Fratelli Tutti (2020) and Laudato Si' (2015). They shared that these teachings have given birth to two international movements in the Church – the Global Compact on Education and the Laudato Si' Action Platform – through which we are called to partner with all persons of goodwill and work towards common objectives. The interactive learning component included sharing resources on Marianist education, the Pray-Study-Act model and Vow of Nonviolence of Pax Christi USA, and additional resources from the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative.
Around 28 people from Mennonite and Catholic traditions were in attendance at the workshop. The workshop began with introductions to the Pax Christi Nonviolence movement by Michelle, followed by an introduction to the Marianist Family Encounters Project by Hazel.
Michelle led the group in the contemplative meditation of Barbara Deming, who coined the Two Hands of Non-violence metaphor. To illustrate this term, one hand says, "I refuse to cooperate with injustice," while the other states, "I respect you as a person and will work with you for the common good." Michelle shared climate justice examples from Pax Christi International in Peru and Guatemala, where Pax Christi members work towards the ecological, economic, and common good of the land and people.
Hazel shared about the Marianist charism through the Marianist Encounters Project. The MFEP combines two initiatives of Pope Francis - the Global Compact on Education and the Laudato Si' Action Platform. Examples from the Marianist Family, through Marianist Encounters initiatives across Marianist Universities, Schools, Retreat Houses, Organizations, and Religious communities, were shared with the group.
The second part of the one-hour session consisted of two workshop activities based on the Pray-Study-Act model of Pax Christi and the Marianist Encounters mustard seed activity. Savio led group discussions among the audience, who were then called upon to share their thoughts and key takeaways from the session. The session closed with Savio playing his guitar and leading everyone in song with Brother Sun Sister Moon from the 1970s movie of the same name.
The conference slides can be viewed in pdf format here.
The video recording of the presentation can be viewed below. The script for the video is here.
Prayers for the Holy Land
The Holy Father has invited all believers to join the Church in the Holy Land on Tuesday, October 17, 2023, for a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace.
Pope Francis said,
“Please do not shed any more innocent blood, neither in the Holy Land, nor in Ukraine, nor anywhere else! Enough! Wars are always a defeat, always!"
"Prayer is the meek and holy force to oppose the diabolical force of hatred, terrorism, and war." (Source: vaticannews.va)