Encouraging Catholic educators to challenge everyday militarism

by James Trewby

The Columbans in Britain have enjoyed a recent collaboration with Pax Christi England and Wales delivering a powerful series of online workshops to youth ministers, school chaplains and teachers which, amongst other things, explored issues surrounding justice, peace, interreligious dialogue, refugees and militarization.

Columban Justice and Peace Education Worker, James Trewby, recently teamed up with Aisling Griffin, Schools and Youth Education Officer for Pax Christi, to provide a series of sessions for educators to learn together about Catholic Social Teaching in action.

Hosted on Zoom, the first session was a facilitated encounter with Sr. Katrina from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, a Roman Catholic Religious Order of women in the Diocese of Nottingham. Topics included prayer, vocation and non violent direct action. In another session, Columban Fr. Bob Mosher joined the discussion live from the USA and explored his experience of working in areas of poverty, migration and human rights with people on the U.S/Mexico border.

During another session, the group explored the ‘military ethos’ in education and discussed how militarization is impacting young people. This is an area Catholic educators don’t often have the time or opportunity to reflect on, considering how people might challenge everyday militarism in their communities through the eyes of the Gospel.

Talking about the programme, Aisling Griffin explains “Collaborating with the Columbans to facilitate these sessions has been brilliant. The Columbans have a wealth of experience to draw upon and share and it’s a privilege to explore issues that are important for educators and people of faith and to be able to support and encourage them in their own formation. As educators we play an important role in guiding young people who are active for social justice and aware of the world around them.  It is important that our Catholic educators are equipped to answer difficult questions raised by students on some of the issues we’ve discussed and can give them the tools and understanding to work for peace.”

Linda Walmsley, Lay Chaplain at a secondary school in Lancashire who participated in the sessions explains, “I’m so glad I participated on the on this programme; it’s been really worthwhile and beneficial. I’ve been able to deepen my knowledge and understanding in some key areas and I’ve been encouraged to look differently at militarization and the ways in which the armed forces are represented in society and in our schools.” She adds, “I’m sure many of the topics we covered will be of interest to our school pupils; those who are active in their faith and those whose faith is more nebulous or even non-existent.  James and Aisling have given me the courage to look at setting up my own justice and peace group at school which will provide a space where students can foster social action debate and perhaps even take some tentative steps towards nonviolent action for justice and peace.”

Issues regarding justice and peace and the integrity of creation have been central to Columban mission since 1976. Through education, advocacy and campaigning we inspire to build on our mission experience here and around the world by confronting injustice and conflict in four priority areas; these being migration, environmental justice, economic justice and peace.

Pax Christi has many years’ experience of working for peace and promoting peace education in schools and amongst young people. They work hard to develop solidarity between people who are working non-violently for justice and peace whilst celebrating the life and witness of peacemakers, and they promote an understanding of sustainable security where human needs are met and the environment is protected, rather than seeking security through weapons and warfare.

Pray with us for Catholic education

Let us pray for Catholic education, including those who support students and young people in their Catholic education such as youth ministers, school chaplains and teachers.

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