Monday, May 27, 2013

In Memoriam Cleveland Peacemakers

Memorial Day began as Decoration Day for the Confederate and Union dead. For the United States, this was the country's demarcation of history; so involved with such a depth of emotion and suffering that it overshadows, by proportion and extent, all else in this country's past.

It had been from time immemorial the practice of decorating graves with flowers. The real reason, the war was fought was over the issue of the continuance of slavery; politically this involved the secession from the Union (the polity of the nation). There was no foreign enemy. American killed American without parallel.

One section of the country was defeated, and in ruins. They especially thought of the time before the war, and as elsewhere after a country has lived in war, the most noticeable occurrence is the absence of those that were. They also had to know at some level that the hardship had come at the price of protecting 'the peculiar institution', and how can one mourn the abolition of slavery? The cause could not be commemorated, but the remembrance of so many dead could.

After so many years, those that remembered these war dead were gone. New wars brought new graves of war dead to decorate. The next concentrated event for the country was World War II, but the dying was done in other countries. There was little American experience of civilian war immersion, but the war was greatly historically significant. Thereafter, American politics began a governmental-military-economic ethos where Decoration Day became a martial Memorial Day [similarly Armistice Day became Veterans' Day], where a focus on the war dead was shifted towards a national obligation of all to the recognition of the necessity the deaths (and the waging of war) were for the continuation (and glory) of the national interest.
So, in partial balance for those who waged for peace (societal, national, international, and especially locally) a prayer service was sponsored by Pax Christi-Cleveland West at St. Therese Garfield Heights Ohio, on to-day's Memorial Day 2013.
In Memoriam Cleveland Peacemakers

Rabbi Bruce Abrams – Outspoken critic of war and capital punishment. Built bridges between faith traditions and neighborhoods.

Ione Biggs – Police officer, war protestor, campaigned for human rights for everyone.

Judy Cannato – Visionary author, teacher, spiritual director, taught peace and compassion for all of God’s creation.

Aurelia Elliott – With The Catholic Interracial Council of Greater Cleveland worked for interracial justice.

Harry Fagan  Executive Director of the Commission on Catholic Community Action in the 1970’s. Trained people to create and lead neighborhood coalitions.

Dr. Joe Foley – Awarded the Bronze Star for being the first unit on shore at the beaches of Normandy, became a continuous advocate for peace.

Marian FranzDirected the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund for 24 years. As a lobbyist, she called upon members of Congress to enact legislation extending the right of conscientious objection to include taxpayers.

Fr. Bill Gibbons Priest and physician served on the Salvador Mission team 1965 – 1980.

Sr. Henrietta Gorris – Lived and worked in the riot-torn area of Hough in 1960’s, providing education for self-reliance along with food, clothing, housing development, and jobs.

Gene Goebel – Founding member of Cleveland West Chapter of Pax Christi USA.

Sr. Brigid Griffin President of the Sisters of St. Joseph, worked for peaceful integration of Cleveland Schools.

Fr. Vincent Haas Pastor & Spiritual Director, Worked for social justice and racial equality in the 1960’s & 70’s.

Frank Hopkins  Officer with the Commission on Catholic Community Action in 1980’s worked to implement the Bishops Pastoral on Peace as well as the national pastoral letter by the US Bishops’ Conference.

John Hughes – Catholic Worker, poet and writer, worked for the Commission on Catholic Community Action.

Joe Lehner – Catholic Worker, Jesuit Volunteer, worked tirelessly for the homeless. Inspired a new perspective for many area youth by helping them experience the great outdoors

Archbishop James Lyke, OFM A high school religion teacher in Ohio in 1968, he asked to be sent to Memphis, Tenn. after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated there. He became the first black Catholic priest regularly assigned to the state of Tennessee. As pastor of St. Thomas Church in Memphis, he introduced African-American elements into worship in the black parish and became deeply involved in civil rights. He later became, auxiliary bishop of Cleveland, and Archbishop of Atlanta.

Eileen McCready – Longtime member of Pax Christi USA, IRTF, Women Speak Out for Peace and Justice, Peace Action Cleveland. Spent three years at Covenant House in NY City ministering to runaway teens.

Charley Murray – Led Cleveland Catholic Diocese in providing for the poor, the aged, the convicted, and the homeless. Rallied Clevelanders in protest of the Gulf wars.

Fr. Ken Myers – Founded the COAR Children’s Village in El Salvador to care for orphans & refugees.

Robert Posta – Catholic Worker – passionate for peace and against all forms of murder.

George SolomonoffTireless worker for peace including the InterReligious Task Force, Cleveland Peace Action, Veterans for Peace, and Women Speak Out for Peace and Justice. He organized the annual Cleveland protest against the School of the Americas. 

Daniel Thompson – Poet Laureate of Cuyahoga County, a freedom rider with MLK, a war protester, he fought and wrote for Cleveland’s homeless, the helpless and the disenfranchised.

Laura Urgo – Lay missionary with Diocesan Mission Team in El Salvador.

Mary Vadas  Social worker committed to empowerment of those she served who were poor and vulnerable. With the Commission on Catholic Community Action lobbied to change US policy in the 80’s to end the Contra War in Nicaragua, the Genocidal war by the Guatemala Military, and military run government in El Salvador.


Catholic Worker Ralph Delaney dedicated his life to serving Cleveland’s poor and homeless, beaten to death while making a video of living conditions in CMHA housing.

Lay missioner Jean Donovan left her upper middle class home to accompany the persecuted in El Salvador, and though in grave danger she stayed, “because of the children.”

Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, “Madre Dorthea” brought hope to “a country writhing in pain.” Her life and death opened our eyes to the cloud of witnesses among the Salvadoran people.

Rev. Bruce Klunder - Civil Rights activist, died in 1964 while protesting the building of segregated schools.

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