In Conversation with Ruth Patterson

The excitement is building for tomorrow’s “Pathways to Peace” talk by Ruth Patterson.

A few weeks ago we sent Ruth a few questions about her memories of Vancouver, her work and her hopes for this event.  Here’s her reply:

  1.  When were you last in Vancouver?

I was last in Vancouver c. 2000 when I was speaking at a peace conference in Victoria and spent a few days looking up old haunts and old acquaintances.

2. What are your memories of working in Vancouver’s downtown eastside?

I have many wonderful memories of the summer of 1967 and I still keep in relatively close touch with some of the people who were on that pilot project with me.  It was a time of great openness, freedom and social consciousness.  I think that one of the things that had been growing within me prior to the Vancouver experience became solidly rooted in me over that summer, namely that if the Church was to mean anything to people then it could not be isolated from the real world in a cozy holy huddle but had to be totally present to where people lived and worked (or not as the case may be) and suffered.  This was all good training as I went back to Ireland a year later to the ‘surprise’ of civic unrest and open violence.

3. What are your hopes in coming back to Vancouver?

I have come back to Vancouver at the invitation of L’Arche Canada and am so happy to do so.  Jean Vanier is one of Canada’s most famous sons.

He has inspired generations of people, young people especially, through the movements of L’Arche and Faith and Light, to be present to the poor, the little and the broken of this earth and to the poor and broken bits within ourselves and to point to the way of hope and peace that starts in little ways of building community and recognising the beauty in each person.  My hope would be that, in some small way, the remarkable work and witness of such movements would be highlighted and encouraged by this visit.

4.  Who do you think are shaping effective messages of peace in today’s world?

There are so many, largely unheralded, who are shaping effective messages of peace in today’s world.  In every situation of conflict you will find them, willing to put their lives where words have been for far too long, quietly and effectively bearing witness to the outrageous hope within them that peace is possible.  They look for no recognition and they have learned the amazing truth that it is often in the day of small things that the most effective peace is forged.

5. Any other comments?

I am simply coming to share some of the things that have been helpful and sometimes painfully learned in a conflict and post-conflict situation.

I cannot and would not tell anyone what they ‘should’ be doing but only point to what has worked for us.  And for anything that has worked and for those remarkable people who have made it possible – thanks be to God.

Tickets to this free event are still available by calling 604-435-9544 or by clicking here. RP half poster

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About L'Arche Greater Vancouver

L'Arche Greater Vancouver is a charitable organization that provides residential care and day programs for adults with developmental disabilities. We are located in Burnaby, BC Canada.
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