Gandhi's grandson speaks at Sister Karen Klimczak remembrance

by Cierra Johnson

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WKBW) - Although they lived at different times and in different lands, it was a dedication to peace and non-violence that Mahatma Gandhi and Sister Karen Klimczak shared.

Sunday night, just days after the 10th anniversary of Sister Karen's murder, their similarities were highlighted.

In front of more than 200, Mahatma Gandhi's grandson Arun Gandhi served as guest speaker drawing parallels between his grandfather - the international peacemaker and Sister Karen - a local Roman Catholic Nun who ran a halfway house for ex-convicts but was murdered in 2006.

The program served as fundraiser for the Center of Nonviolence, an organization to continue her work and legacy.

Arun Ghandi also shared how he continues to share his grandfather's mission of peace by starting the "Season of Nonviolence." The annual 64-day event celebrates the ideas of his grandfather and another peace icon: Dr. Martin Luther King.

Started in 1998, Arun says since its creation this movement has been adopted by several hundred communities.

*See April Annual Event Photos page*

For video, go to

Camp Peaceprints 2015 "Unity in Community" July 13-24

(See Camp Peaceprints page for photographs)

Camp Peaceprints had its best year yet in 2015! “Unity in Community” was our theme for our second year at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf. We served almost 50 youth who were enthusiastic and eager to learn about and practice being a community guided by peace and nonviolence.

·         Our diverse staff included dynamic members of WAVE (Women Against Violence Everywhere) who mentored and taught the youth and whose work in the inner city made our staff team even easier for campers to relate to. Other collaborators were the Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, the Interfaith Peace Network, St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, the SSJ Sr. Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence, St. Columba-Brigid RCC, Veterans for Peace, and the WNY Peace Center.

·         Our great group of youth assistants included Young Neighbors in Action teams from New Hampshire and Wisconsin; our 2nd-year UB School of Social Work Intern, Alessandra Waylon; young women from TRY (Teaching and Restoring Youth); and a few very gifted young men from Buffalo Public high schools.

·         Our increased diversity also included four Foster Grandparents from the Catholic Charities program who were wonderful supporters and mentors for the children and youth.

·         The shorter day – 10am to 3pm – enabled the youth (and the adults!) to be fresh and rested each day, and to bring greater intensity to the Camp time.

·         Increased swimming time (4 one-hour sessions at the Canisius College pool) allowed campers to build self-confidence by overcoming their fears, and fostered trust and a feeling of community.

·         The rotating station format gave an intimate experience to the campers as they learned in small groups from the speakers, artists, activists, and teachers who graced the camp.

·         Activities included yoga; trust-building, communication, and conflict resolution exercises; exploring nonviolence, history, current events (particularly nuclear issues and human rights), and social change; submitting our ideas about our neighborhoods’ needs to the Mayor; singing the “Peaceprints”song; creating lively drumming circles; and enjoying outdoor recreation in the sunshine.

·         We learned from the Peaceprints Prison Ministry how important it is to reach out for the help we need to heal from hurts and be our best selves, and decorated bags for their Holiday Gift Bag Project.

·         Our Art Project was a tremendous experience all by itself, with children sharing themselves and their skills on pieces that became part of an intricate, unified mandala design; later put on blue fabric representing the one blue sky above us – a reminder of the peace we want under it – and surrounded by our peaceprints and expressions of our hopes, dreams, and deepest feelings for a better world for us all.

·         Field trips were

o   in and around the Tri-Main Center-- to the Brewster Street Urban Farm; the People’s Park with storytelling from Karima Amin and crafts with Aspire (joining with people with developmental disabilities); Buffalo Arts Studio and their mural project, and found-objects artist and author Betty Leader; and a stop at Landies Candies where they kindly offered free samples to the whole camp!

o   to the Erie Basin Marina and Canalside, where we enjoyed the new environment, shared lunch and ice cream, and got tours from the Buffalo History Museum and Buffalo State College’s Maritime Center.

Jan Burns, who plans and delivers the wonderful art projects for Camp Peaceprints every year, was at Camp for our Community and Family Potluck Celebration on the night before the last day of Camp, and brought her elderly mother who helped with our finishing the mandala. The next day, Jan called to say her mother passed away that morning. It was very touching and a very real reminder – both of how beautiful and constant a life of service can be, and how quickly and unexpectedly our time here on this earth can end. It makes it even more obvious how we need to love each other and use our time well. The campers learned many great lessons about the gift of Unity in building our Beloved Community, as we all did. 

(See Camp Peaceprints page for photographs.)

Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS "Compassionate Conviction: Creating Change and Building Peace"

For video of event, go to:!4426&parId=D3CE8226E9D23814!4445&ithint=folder%2C&authkey=!AGkNTBbs3FmROSo&v=3

“Radical acceptance” was the theme of Sister Simone Campbell’s presentation titled “Compassionate Conviction: Creating Change and Building Peace” at the eighth annual fundraising event for the SSJ Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence. The event was held on a gorgeous spring day, Sunday, April 19th at St. Columba-Brigid Church in Buffalo.

As a tribute to Sister Simone’s “Nuns on the Bus” tours, participants entered the sanctuary through two large sides of an artist’s rendering of a bus, complete with real tires! The mood was celebratory with brightly colored Easter flowers still gracing the chancel area. We were thrilled to welcome Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, U.S. Attorney Bill Hochul and NYS Senator Tim Kennedy present with us. Members of the Peacemakers Gang Intervention and Outreach program were also recognized.

Sister Simone began her talk by asserting that  the challenge of nonviolence is to fully live our lives making room for the “other” and being willing to engage in authentic dialogue where everyone’s feelings and values are respected. This is the “radical acceptance” we are called to embrace. Simone admitted to thinking at one point in her life that certain people were “mistakes of God” (which elicited much laughter!). She confessed that her sin was being so certain that they were wrong.

Her relationship with Senator Paul Ryan was the example Simone shared. Since 2012 when Senator Ryan’s  proposed budget included drastic cutbacks in the federal safety net (which precipitated the  “Nuns on the Bus” tour), Simone has been working to understand the senator through dialogue even though their political views are often in conflict. She reported that radical acceptance has changed the way she lobbies. It is essential to creating change and building peace.

A crucial insight shared by Sister Simone is that in order to create change, especially with those who are so different from us, rather than fighting against a problem, we need to stand side-by-side with each other and fight for a common vision. Simone referred to Sister Karen in saying that, like her,  we need to create alliances and look for “positive intersections” where we can work together.    

Creating change and building peace through radical acceptance also means that we have to be willing to take in stories that break our hearts. Sister Simone used examples of people living in poverty in spite of the fact that they are working, even fulltime. She showed us a photograph of Margaret, a woman who died because she lost her healthcare along with her job. These tragedies are a form of violence.

Sister Simone’s conviction is that radical acceptance and working side by side for a vision kindles the fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives. She recalled the story of the burning bush where God is aware of the suffering of God’s people and has come to the rescue.


We need to be part of the rescue effort. We need to call others to this work through such practices as being “grocery store missionaries” where we engage others in dialogue about our democracy and who is being left out. We need to present a vision for change that can draw people in, a vision of a nation and a world without violence.

The presentation by Sister Simone ended with her affirming that it is in Sister Karen’s witness and faith as a servant that we find the seeds for nonviolence, creating change and building peace. As a reminder of the compassionate conviction of both Sister Simone and Sister Karen, audience members were given a packet of Forget-Me-Not seeds during the singing of “Peaceprints,” the song written to honor Sister Karen’s legacy.

For those who purchased it, Sister Simone autographed her book, A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Chane, and Community, during the reception held in the social hall. Delicious food and treats along with vibrant conversation were enjoyed by all. Our annual fundraising event was a success in every way!

A Beautiful Day at the Peace and Nonviolence Festival

by Matt Glynn, The Buffalo News

September 21, 2014

The atmosphere was lively, but the underlying themes were serious at the Peace and Nonviolence Festival in Delaware Park’s Rose Garden.

Amid the music, hula-hooping and facepainting on a pleasant late-summer Sunday afternoon, participants were trying to spread a message of peace.

From shootings on Buffalo’s streets to conflict in Iraq and Syria, violence is a persistent adversary. But groups at the festival said they take heart in seeing so many others sharing their commitment. More than 60 groups were co-sponsors.

“Part of this whole movement is to connect the dots between the causes of violence,” said Tom Casey, regional director of Pax Christi of Western New York and a festival organizer. “Martin Luther King, before he was killed, and many others have said, it’s impossible not to correlate the violence in our streets with the rampant violence in our media and in our country, as far as war, after war, after war.”

While those are big-picture ideals, Casey said the message plays out in the work of the Buffalo Peacemakers, who try to keep young people on a peaceful path.

Murray Holman, executive director of the Stop the Violence Coalition, said he used to get discouraged by the violence he sees, “but now I just try to find ways to help the community, with the kids in high school and elementary school.”

Coalition members are at the intersection of Delavan Avenue and Grider Street on school days at 2 p.m. to prevent fights. “The kids are more receptive to us now,” Holman said. “They call us by our names, being respectful, asking for jobs. It’s working. The kids are listening. I can truly say I’m not discouraged with this new group of kids now that’s listening, especially the freshmen and sophomores coming through school.”

Holman said he would love to get members of the Buffalo Bills actively involved in the coalition’s work, especially the players with hometown ties. “When are these guys going to step up and give back and be not a role model, but just a Buffalonian? That’s what I’m looking for.”

Victoria Ross, a festival organizer and a peaceful conflict resolution consultant with the Western New York Peace Center, said groups have been working all along to promote nonviolence.

“It’s just that the big money is not in the nonviolence,” Ross said. “The big money is actually in the violence, and of course, the violent enterprises somehow get the money so much more easily.” Rather than spend so much on the military, Ross wants to see more resources devoted to health, education, welfare and sustainable energy.

Heron Simmonds-Price, who teaches social and political philosophy at Canisius College, gave a talk on police misconduct and how to prevent it. He envisioned a process involving citizen review of police behavior. “I don’t think it’s sound to leave the policing of the police solely to other police officers.”

Simmonds-Price also believes service to the community ought to be a factor in officers’ promotions, “so there’s some kind of incentive for the police themselves to culture themselves to be servants of the community, rather than what we see, which is a growing division.”

The festival was one more than 200 events nationwide tied into Campaign Nonviolence, which aims to abolish war and end poverty.

Organizers hope to turn the Peace and Nonviolence Festival into an annual, larger event. Planning for this year’s edition started only in July; preparation for next year’s will start in early 2015, Casey said. Organizers are considering a number of locations for next year’s festival – possibly including a march – and they hope to move the event around each year.

Casey wants to see the festival grow to demonstrate just how many groups are working to eliminate violence.

“It’s a hopeful thing,” he said. “For some people, it’s a spiritual thing. And for many people, it’s just a deep, deep commitment to make a better world for our children and to teach our children that if somebody doesn’t get along with you, whether it’s on Sycamore Street or in Iraq, you don’t kill them, because it leads to more killing.”

"Peace Messaging" at Camp Peaceprints 2014

Peace Messaging at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, 2253 Main Street in Buffalo, was the heart of Camp Peaceprints 2014! In our 7th year, we focused on communication, and got a real lesson in how the impulse to connect is a powerful force.

Sixty-five children and youth communicated the desire for peace to each other and to other groups – both across the world (to the Afghan Peace Volunteers during their Global Day of Listening Skype session) and across the span of being differently abled, that is the children with hearing impairment who attend St. Mary’s.

When we were in the playground and the like-aged (8-13 year old) children’s class came by, both groups of children immediately tried to communicate with each other. Over the course of inviting the children to join us – to teach us some signing, attend to our speakers (with their teacher interpreting), do an art project – the urge to communicate was very apparent. The difficulty in doing so only increased the intensity and importance of the communication.

The first time St. Mary’s students joined us for a session, Karima Amin was storytelling – children without hearing impairment were watching the teacher sign, while the children with hearing impairment couldn’t take their eyes off Karima! All were moved, and all communicated.

We also explored also Peace Messaging through sessions with:

·         City Comptroller and signer Mark Schroeder;

·         Women-Against-Violence-Everywhere Chair and Veteran for Peace Marilyn Gibson;

·         Yoga instructor Uli Carlino-Macdonald;

·         Yagwoneest Jill Clause, Tuskarora, through Indigenous Sustainable Peace Ways;

·         Spoken Word Artist, Rapper and Poet Quadir Lateef of The Street Council;

·         Musician and Rapper My-Rap-Name-is-Alex-and-My-Real-Name-is-Alex (Mead); and

·         Drummer and Teacher Carolyn Zimmerman, “The Drum Lady” and Drum For Health.

Our field trips included:

·          A visit with our Mayor Brown, where he fielded the campers’ intelligent and serious questions;

·         City Hall exploration including a guided tour of Buffalo from the Observation deck by volunteer Paul Kochmanski (psychologist and WNYPC member), and hospitality from the staff;

·         Lunch in the courtyard of one of the oldest churches in Buffalo, St. Anthony of Padua;

·         Ice cream, games, and lounging at the Marina and Canalside;

·         Viewing the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, with a Vietnam Veteran sharing his experiences in the Navy and losing his brother in the war;

·         Three trips to go swimming at Canisius College Koessler Athletic Center, where the children learned from each other and conquered their fears;

·         All kinds of information and feelings about the various animals we saw at the Buffalo Zoo; and

·         Trips to Delaware Park as well as the playgrounds and open fields of St. Mary’s – on the last day we had our own “Fly Kites Not Drones” event with a dozen kites in the air at once!

We couldn’t hold Camp Peaceprints without the generous support of:

·         The Network of Religious Communities via the Riefler Foundation Grant;

·         The Presbytery of WNY and their Peacemaking Grant (We were also privileged to have a wonderful visit with Dr. Elena Delgado at Camp);

·         Joan A. Droit Scholarships through the Peace Education Fund;

·         St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, always kind, hospitable, and eager to collaborate;

·         St. Columba-Brigid RCC, for their thoughtful provision of their van;

·         Our volunteers:

o   Heros and Veterans for Peace Russell Brown and Frank Gage, and Cece Huff who transported children;

o   Jan Burns, our Art Teacher and ever-peaceful presence;

o   Ellen Moomaw, Kate Mang, and Latanya Jacob who kept things running smoothly;

o   Young Neighbors in Action teams from the Roman Catholic Church’s Center for Ministry Development, who brought their commitment and caring to share freely;  

o   Young women from Teach and Restore Youth (TRY) who served as youth assistants; and

·         Supportive members of collaborating organizations:  the Interfaith Peace Network, the SSJ Sr. Karen Center for Nonviolence, and the WNY Peace Center.

All together, Camp Peaceprints is a vigorous exercise in Peace Messaging. We work to be the change we want to see, and to send the message that we can all leave peaceprints everywhere, as we reach out and create community.  Camp Peaceprints provides the inspiration to love and care for each other more, and the tools to communicate that intention. The tears at the end of Camp and the relationships built say we made good progress toward that goal.