At the AGM of Pax Christi England and Wales, Jan Harper was one of the four recipients given the Pax Christi Peace Award by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, President of Pax Christi England and Wales.
The Pax Christi Peace Award was created to honour people who faithfully, without reward or recognition, do the work that keeps peace issues alive in our Church and in the world today.
Jan has been a member of Pax Christi for 40 years, working in the parish of St. Michael and Sacred Heart and in the wider city of Liverpool, and has also served as the National Executive.
For over 10 years, Jan has co-ordinated the Pax Christi Merseyside Group in work for nuclear and conventional disarmament, and for peace in Palestine/Israel. Her work has taken many forms: inviting speakers, holding film nights, signing petitions, writing letters to MPs, holding stalls, and activities challenging injustices, to name just a few.
Jan has frequently protested outside Liverpool University where research and development is funded by arms companies. There she distributed leaflets and encouraged people to sign petitions to stop this funding in warfare.
Much of Jan’s work with the group has been out on the streets of Liverpool. She coordinates the annual Ash Wednesday Walk of Witness through the city centre. This event attracts much attention and includes the distribution of ashes and prayers of repentance for the collective sin of nuclear weapons. This year, a letter was handed in to Liverpool City Council asking them to support the Treaty for the Prohibition of nuclear weapons, known as ‘The Nuclear Ban.’
Recent actions of Pax Christi Merseyside have included a commemoration for Conscientious Objectors’ Day and for the 78th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Jan said: “I was very touched to receive this peace award as my father was active in the trade unions and I was brought up to think that working for justice was a normal part of being a Catholic.
"As a teenager, I was an active member of Young Christian Workers and I learned the importance of ‘prayer, study and action,’ which is also integral to Pax Christi. Gospel Non violence is at the heart of all we do, whether supporting Conscientious Objectors, working for ethical investment in Palestine /Israel, or campaigning for Liverpool to support the Nuclear Ban.
“Over the years, I have come to realise that working and praying for peace is my vocation. I value being a member of Pax Christi - an international community of peacemakers, who work closely with people who share our values, whether Christian or not.”
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