Daniel Berrigan Walt Whitman Martin Sheen Nick Virgilio Edwina Gateley Mother Theresa Thich Naht Hahn Mairead Corrigan Mick Maloney Eugene O’Donnell Barbara Dever Harry Reasoner Othmar Carli Sister Peg Hynes Cesar Chavez Eileen Egan Paddy Doherty Michael Flatley Tommy Sands Lester Conner Father Des Wilson
FAMOUS FACES AT SACRED HEART
Eileen Egan, Catholic peace activist, journalist and relief worker, spent her life in the pursuit of peace. Her work encompassed not only salving the wounds of war during her decades of service with Catholic Relief Services, but also clearly and persistently speaking out against the causes of war. She served refugees and displaced persons in World War II Europe, Palestine, China, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Korea and Vietnam. She became a life-long friend to both Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa, spending time in Calcutta and eventually coming with Mother Teresa to Sacred Heart Church in Camden in August 1976. Egan had a significant influence on the drafting of the peace statements of the Vatican II Council, and was instrumental in the 1987 UN recognition of conscientious objection as a universal human right.
Refusing to accept the legitimacy of the notion of a just war, she was one of the founders in 1962 of the organization that eventually became Pax Christi. She coined the phrase “seamless garment” to describe the necessary unity of Catholic pro-life teaching, a teaching that must embrace peace and nonviolence equally with other life issues. Knowing the passion and commitment required of a peacemaker, she preferred the term gospel nonviolence to pacifism because of the unfortunate association of the latter word with the word passive. No one could have called Egan passive. She could be found by the side of civil rights marchers in Selma, Alabama and likewise with picketing farm workers in California. Wherever people suffered oppression or violence, Eileen Egan was there, in compassion and recognition of human beings worthy of dignity and respect. And so it was that she came to Camden, with her friend, Mother Teresa in August 1976.
Egan received the Pope John XXIII Medal from Ursuline College of New Rochelle; the “Pacem in Terris” and the Freedom Award by the Davenport Diocese and Quad Cities Peace Committee; and the Peace Citation by the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Notre Dame University. Her article in the winter 1991 issue of Pax Christi-USA Magazine earned an award from the Catholic Press Association for the best treatment of the Gulf War in the American Catholic press. In recognition of her gifts as a journalist and her great example of the values of the organization, Catholic Relief Services instituted the Eileen Egan Journalism Award in 1995. Eileen Egan died on October 7, 2000.