When I started working for the Columbans I was so encouraged by the words “partnership is our way of being on mission” (from ‘Called to Communion’). What a sensible and lifegiving approach, in a world where so many organisations are caught up in ‘branding’ and ‘market-share’! One extremely fruitful partnership has been our active membership of the Peace Education Network, a national network that brings together people and organisations committed to education for peace.
Through regular meetings and ‘skill-shares’ we support one another and often find creative ways to collaborate. Amongst other things it has led to young people running around the gardens at St Columban’s with paper kites as part of a workshop on ‘Fly Kites Not Drones’, training for hundreds of teachers exploring the Christian vocation to peace-making, sessions with Veterans for Peace, and a resource pack of assemblies and activities for exploring peace themes with children aged 5 to 11.
Of all the members of the Peace Education Network, by far our most regular co-conspirators have been the Schools and Youth Education Officers from Pax Christi. In normal times we have worked together in schools, at festivals, youth ministry conferences and retreats. COVID has forced us to try something new – during our first lockdown, a group of teachers, heads and youth minsters gathered together faithfully online on Tuesday evenings for a programme run jointly by Pax Christi and the Columbans.
Over 2 months we explored faith in action through a mixture of discussion, special guests, reading, film, prayer and reflection. Sessions included an encounter with Sr Katrina Alton CSJP, a peace and climate activist, a discussion about ‘decolonising the curriculum’, and watching and sharing our reactions to the 18 documentary ‘War School’ highlighting military engagement in the British education system. A second iteration of this programme is planned for the new year