In this great month of Salesian feasts there is one distinctly secular commemoration that is highlighted with both excitement and trepidation in my diary this year. Saturday 15 May is International Conscientious Objectors Day when I will make a Pilgrimage of Peace, cycling the 50-odd miles from home in Warrington to All Souls Cemetery in Barrowford, Lancashire. There I will pay prayerful tribute at the graves of Tom and Peter Allen, Catholic conscientious objectors from the First World War.
My journey, in search of Lancashire peace people, has various stopping points where I will remember COs and peacemakers of the First World War and meet peacemakers who are working for an end to violent conflict in our world today. It is part of the wider Pax Christi Pilgrimage of Peace to raise awareness of and funds for Pax Christi's valuable work for peace.
I owe a great deal to St Dominic Savio; it was at Savio House in Bollington where the seeds of my vocation as a Salesian Cooperator were sown and it is he who represents for me the deep link between this vocation and my vocation as a peacemaker. As I reflected here some years ago, his playground tactic of urging people to gaze at the face of Jesus and reconsider their actions is exactly what we do as peacemakers when confronting the powers of war. There is something of this too in the lives of those conscientious objectors who, like the Allen brothers, were inspired by faith to refuse to kill. Their courageous witness also points towards a better way, the way of peace.
Matt Jeziorski is a Salesian Cooperator in Warrington. He is currently Secretary to the Provincial Council and a member of Pax Christi's Executive Committee. His cycling pilgrimage for peace takes place on 15 May beginning in Penketh and visiting Winwick, Bolton, Blackburn, and Newchurch-in-Pendle before concluding at Barrowford. You can support him here: tinyurl.com/PaxDonate