Debbie Almontaser Receives Peacemaker Award

Pax Christi Metro New York Presents Local Peacemaker Award

March 16, 2008- All Pax Christi Metro New York’s Peacemaker Awards honor those whose efforts, vision, and spirit lead us on the way to peace. The following are the words of Pax Christi at this event.

The Sister Christine Mulready Local Peacemaker Award

This award is presented to a person or persons of faith whose work for peace and justice is helping to transform metropolitan New York into a community of peacemakers and justice-seekers. Sr. Christine Mulready was a founding member of Pax Christi Queens and the Sisters of St. Joseph Nonviolence Group. She served as Chairperson of PCMNY’s Council from 1993 to 1996 and was honored by PCMNY in 1998, but her legacy is much greater than that. Chris was a mentor and model for many PCMNY members. She was strong and gentle, courageous and compassionate, able to engage with equal respect and dignity all whom she encountered from a homeless squeegee man to a police officer to a Cardinal. She was often the calm in a storm, a woman of deep faith and love, wisdom and joy. Chris taught us how to live peace and how to die peacefully when cancer robbed us of her many gifts far too soon.

Debbie Almontaser, Sister Christine Mulready Local Peacemaker

Debbie Almontaser was born in Yemen and came to the United States when she was three. An Arab-American, her last name means to win or overcome, which she has striven to do, especially since September 11th, 2001, if by that we mean to win hearts and minds and to overcome fear and bigotry. Debbie was an elementary school teacher in a Brooklyn public school for several years. Then moved on to becoming a teacher trainer, but after 9/11, her work evolved into a well-developed multicultural program designed specifically to teach children, teachers, and families about Arabs and Islam and the importance of tolerance and respect. She is a multicultural specialist and diversity consultant and formerly a founding board member of the Dialogue Project. Debbie has also designed and facilitated teacher and public workshops on conflict resolution. She served as an advisor for Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr. Muslim American Series and the PBS production of Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad curriculum, as well as an exhibit on Arab-Americans at the Museum of the City of New York. Debbie is also the go-to person by NYC politicians and the Interfaith Center of NYC.

Debbie co-founded the Children of Abraham Peace Walk in Brooklyn and organizes annual interfaith breakfasts with diverse groups. In 2006, she graced Pax Christi Metro New York with her knowledge and love of Islam as a participant on an interfaith panel. In 2007, she brought to birth the Khalil Gibran International Academy, an Arabic-English middle school in Brooklyn, to cultivate greater understanding and appreciation between cultures and to provide a vital means to peace.

The Award and Praise Given to Debbie

“Just as St. Francis and the Sultan, Malek al-Kamil, found common ground in their experiences of God through dialog, Pax Christi Metro New York has found common ground with you, Debbie, in our shared faith in a loving and merciful God. You have contributed richly to our interfaith dialog and helped us to know and understand much about your beautiful faith. And you have not only reached out to Pax Christi, but to all of New York City to teach, to open minds and hearts, and to break down barriers of fear and suspicion. You have helped lead people of New York so that we might walk together and pray together for peace with justice. You are a strong bridge among cultures and a guide in nonviolent conflict resolution, despite being forced to traverse some very hostile territory.

We so appreciate the dignity with which you have gifted all of us on our path to peace, and so we honor you.”

Pax Christi Metro New York

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