Patricia Gaffney – England

Linked wit the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development CAFOD, with Comprehensive Future, with the Pax Christi British Section PCBS, and with the Peace Education Network PEN.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “Creating connections, crossing barriers of time and place and being human with one another are paramount peacemaking elements for me”.

Patricia Gaffney - England one rogné.jpg

Patricia Gaffney – England

She works for the Pax Christi British Section PCBS, for the Peace Education Network PEN, and for the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development CAFOD.

Patricia was raised in a hard-working Irish immigrant community in west London, with strong Catholic roots. After training as a schoolteacher, she taught for six years at a Comprehensive in west London. In 1980 she joined the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development CAFOD as Schools and Youth Education Officer. Since 1990 she has been the General Secretary of Pax Christi.

Through annual monitoring Patricia has played a key role in calling on church institutions to cease investment in arms industries. As a result, no Catholic dioceses or religious orders now have arms investments. Through annual monitoring Pat has been a key person in calling on church institutions to cease investment in arms industries. As a result, no Catholic dioceses and religious orders now have arms investments.

Patricia is a central figure in the Christian peace movement in Britain, working diligently and creatively and leading unobtrusively. Her work involves her in lobbying and campaigning within church and political networks on peace and security-related issues, offering support and facilitation for church-related groups on Christian peacemaking, as well as coordinating the day-to-day running of Pax Christi in Britain. She produces practical educational materials and is frequently in demand as a speaker and facilitator for workshops of teachers, churches, youth leaders, students, and religious communities all over the country.

She is a regular contributor to the religious press and to Vatican Radio. Patricia is also an indispensable and key figure in the wider British peace movement: the Peace Education Network is chiefly sustained by her efforts.

She has been actively involved in campaigning for peace and justice for more than twenty-five years, working through the direct empowerment of people. She is an efficient planner and organizer herself, but she is especially good at involving other people in peace work, by pooling them into teamwork of volunteers, by inviting them to contribute to peace-building projects or events, by making connections between people in different networks that she has access to, and by her impressive charisma in the immediate situation of a classroom or conference session. With both children and adults her methods are interactive and participative: sharing stories, discussion and activities that make learning enjoyable.

Patricia practices the non-violence she preaches, at the personal level as well as in her work for international peace. She gives other people hope and inspiration by encouragement, humor, and genuine personal concern, giving time to share moments of celebration and sorrow with them. She looks for ways of reconciling opposing parties in immediate conflicts as well as advocating this approach in situations far away.

At the same time, she has the moral courage to put non-violence into practice at the political level. For example, she will talk politely but very directly to the director of an arms company to explain why she is opposed to the arms trade. She advocates “dialogue and resistance,” so she has deliberately engaged in acts of non-violent civil disobedience to draw attention to British nuclear weapons.

She has a constant focus on how to continually challenge the Christian churches to live up to the non-violent ideals of their faith. Patricia has made a major contribution to making justice and peace education more vital issue. She has helped to build up networks like the National Network of Justice and Peace Commissions that did not exist before and are now influential within the church. Many more churches now observe ‘Peace Sunday’, initiated by the Pope, each year as a day of prayer and action on various aspects of peacemaking. Such initiatives have resulted in much greater awareness in the Catholic community of structural injustice, and other obstacles to peace, and of how to campaign effectively to overcome them.

Through annual monitoring Patricia has been a key person in calling on church institutions to cease investment in arms industries. As a result, no Catholic dioceses and religious orders now have arms investments. By consistent and regular non-violent actions at the Ministry of Defense, followed by witness in court, Patricia has helped many church people to understand that there are times when it may be necessary to work out the law in order to raise awareness and prevent crimes under international law. Large numbers of individuals – of all faiths and none – have been inspired by hearing Patricia, or working with her at grassroots events and workshops, including refugees, conscientious objectors, students, and others.

Patricia has been a source of encouragement for fellow activists in the peace movement in Britain and the international networks, as well as for Pax Christi members and the wider justice and peace movement within the Church in Britain. The impact of her political campaigning and advocacy work is felt as far as East Timor and Palestine.

There are continual low-level difficulties caused by lack of funds and resources. The funds are all raised from voluntary donations, but none comes from the church institutions. Choosing to work in the peace movement is therefore financially precarious and involves a much lower salary than, for example, Patricia would be getting as a teacher.

More significantly, she has deliberately taken the risks of repeated civil disobedience because of her beliefs.

She has been arrested twelve times and imprisoned three times for her protests against nuclear weapons and arms trade. Patricia’s courses on non-violence and in-group skills have been duplicated by local animators throughout Britain. She has a worldwide reputation as a high profile peace promoter.

She was invited to East Timor, to a university in Russia, and to Palestine, to pass on her techniques for peace education. Patricia’s writing on Peace education have been translated into Portuguese and Arabic, by groups of peace workers, and other articles into Italian and German. She is a first class example of grassroots peacemaking who gives her life’s energy to promoting the peace of humankind. (1000PeaceWomen).

Remark: Google shows a huge amount of pages about a Patricia Gaffney … but they concern all a younger American Writer born in Tampa, Florida.

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