MCLEAN, Va. — A celebration was held last month that both commemorated the 85th birthday and supported Franciscan and world peacemaking.
Roughly 160 people attended the celebration held Nov. 5 at the parish hall of an Orthodox church in northern Virginia to recognize the milestone birthday of Joseph Nangle, OFM, and to do what he wanted – recognize an organization devoted to peacemaking.
“They wanted to focus on Joe, and he wanted to focus on the work that Pax Christi does,” said Ignatius Harding, OFM. “The hall overflowed with acquaintances of Joe – from parishes, movements, Eucharistic communities, solidarity groups, and friends of Assisi Community in Washington, D.C.”
Approximately $40,000 was raised for Pax Christi through the event, according to Joe, who said: “the gathering was a success in every way.”
“The overall program moved along well,” he said. “Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, with whom I had traveled to conflicted areas in Central America on several occasions, gave a warm and humorous toast, we showed the video made by Casey Cole, OFM, in his Friar Life series, and we had an excellent caterer.”
“The celebration of Joe’s birthday was a tremendous tribute to him and to his ministry over so many years,” said Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International and a long-time member of Assisi House, an intentional community in Washington. “Pax Christi International is enormously grateful to Joe and to the Pax community for their amazing generosity in planning such a successful event. We will use the support given in Joe’s honor with great care in our work for a more just and peaceful world.”
“We saw in the video how Joe has lived Franciscan experience,” said Ignatius, who lives in Triangle, Va., and who served for 45 years in Bolivia – a country where Joe also lived and worked for several years.
“No one was surprised that Joe came up with the great idea of celebrating by gathering all these wonderful people as a fundraiser for our worldwide Catholic Peace Movement – Pax Christi,” Iggy added.
“While the many guests focused on their solid friendships with and commentaries of support for Joe – after a brief and somewhat humorous introduction about himself – he focused on our need to dedicate more attention to ‘Pacem en Terris,’ or ‘peace on earth,’” according to Ignatius. “This showed support and participation for the marvelous work of Pax Christi National and Pax Christi International, our well-known world Catholic peace movement.”
In his presentation, Joe shared “some profound experiences” learned from his involvement with several Pax Christi missions in different countries, said Iggy.
Through the years, Joe has worked in varied places and had many assignments.
A native of Massachusetts, Joe spent 15 years as a missioner in Bolivia and Peru and served for 12 as co-director of the Franciscan Mission Service. From 2011 until 2017, he served as a member of the Provincial Council. He is now stationed in Arlington, Va., where he works at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish. The church where last month’s celebration was held is one where an intentional community – a Catholic community that does not belong to a specific parish – called Pilgrims after Christ, or PAX, regularly celebrates Mass.
“This birthday gesture, now held sacred in the minds and hearts of all who participated, is a special tribute to 85 years of one of our Franciscan brothers, who – by his words and actions – is an instrument of peace,” said Ignatius.
“While I have no plans to check out anytime soon,” Joe said at the event, “I am hoping you will agree that I could not have asked for a better 85th birthday gift than this wonderful gathering and your generous support for an amazing peace organization.”
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.
- Pax Christi International website
- “Assisi Community Celebrate 25 Years” — Dec. 7, 2011, HNP Today
- “Friar Joe Nangle: The Face of Pax Christi in Videos and Photos” – Oct. 22, 2008, HNP Today
- “Marie Dennis Chosen Co-president of Pax Christi” – May 9, 2007, HNP Today