Pax Christi Awards Joseph Nangle 2023 Teacher of Peace Award

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Joseph Nangle, OFM

Cited for his decades of commitment to justice, peace, simple living, and service to the poor and marginalized, Joseph Nangle, OFM, has been named recipient of the 2023 Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award. It is the national Catholic peace organization’s highest honor. The award will be presented at an event this fall.

“’Teacher of peace’ is an apt description of Fr. Joe. His life has been lived in mission and service, and he has taught first by example, and then by words, about what justice with peace means,” said Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv., bishop of the Diocese of Kentucky.

“Inspired by another teacher of peace, Francis of Assisi, Joe has been a vital part of the Assisi community since the beginning in D.C. He has drawn together and trained young women and men to be in mission and to be converted by the poor. And in recent years, his reflections for Pax Christi have provided strong, distilled Gospel reflections that are challenging and encouraging to anyone who wants to live God’s peace,” added Bishop Stowe, bishop-president of Pax Christi USA.

Joe was nominated for this year’s award by several people, including parishioners from Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Arlington, Virginia, where he currently serves in ministry with the Latino community.

“As a parishioner since 1992, my family and I have learned what it means to ‘walk the talk’ as we have observed Fr. Joe’s interactions with people of all ages – and especially vulnerable populations – listened to his homilies that bring the Gospel alive through contemporary real-life stories, and observed the many times he has been jailed for peaceful resistance,” wrote Karen Gladbach. “At 91-years-old, he continues to amaze us with his commitment to working for peace and justice.”

Joe called Pax Christi USA’s announcement humbling. “To receive this award is a great honor and truly humbling. The list of those who have received this award over the 51 years since Pax Christi USA was formed includes historic peacemakers,” said Joe, a Massachusetts native who spent 15 years as a missioner in Bolivia and Peru.

“At a moment like this, one has the feeling of standing on the shoulders of that cloud of witnesses who lived the prayer ascribed to St. Francis of Assisi: ‘Lord, make us instruments of your peace.’”

He was lauded by a former Teacher of Peace Award recipient. “The decision of Pax Christi USA to honor Fr. Joe as a ‘Teacher of Peace’ is both wise and wonderful,” said Marie Dennis, program chair of Pax Christi International’s Catholic Nonviolence Initiative and the award’s 2022 recipient. “For more than 50 years, Fr. Joe has brought to his writing, and to the pastoral work he loves, a deep liberationist spirituality and a careful social analysis informed by his years in Latin America. As a faithful follower of St. Francis, he is truly a teacher of peace!”

In 1986, Joe co-founded the Assisi community in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, D.C., an intentional, faith-based group of lay persons and vowed religious with a focus on simple lifestyle, social justice, and witness. He still lives with this community.

He served for 12 years as co-director of the Franciscan Mission Service, and was a member of the HNP Provincial Council from 2011 to 2017. Joe is also an accomplished author, works that include Birth of a Church, a memoir of his years of mission service in Bolivia and Peru; Say to This Mountain, a co-authored tome reflecting on the Gospel of St. Mark; and St. Francis and the Foolishness of God, which provides a Franciscan perspective on current issues of poverty, peace, ecology, and interreligious dialogue.