Patricia was raised in a hard-working Irish immigrant community in west London, with strong Catholic roots. After training as a schoolteacher, she taught for six years at a Comprehensive in west London. In 1980 she joined the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD) as Schools and Youth Education Officer. Since 1990 she has been the General Secretary of Pax Christi. Through annual monitoring Patricia has played a key role in calling on church institutions to cease investment in arms industries. As a result, no Catholic dioceses or religious orders now have arms investments.
Patricia Gaffney is a central figure in the Christian peace movement in Britain, working diligently and creatively and leading unobtrusively. Through her work she is involved in lobbying and campaigning within church and political networks on peace and security-related issues, offering support and facilitation for church-related groups on Christian peacemaking, as well as coordinating the day-to-day running of Pax Christi in Britain. She recalls one fascinating experience of advocating peace in the world in the following: “Some years back I was involved in a peace exercise, planting a cherry tree outside the Ministry of Defense in London on Hiroshima Day. We wanted a creative enterprise, a lasting memory of the people of Hiroshima. We planted a tree and hung the names of those who had died on its branches. We knelt to pray for the victims of nuclear war. Suddenly a coach pulled up and tourists spilled out. One ran towards us and began crying when she saw what we were doing. She was Japanese, from Hiroshima, and could not believe that people in London were remembering the tragic history of her home. As we tried to calm her I was more worried that she might accidentally be arrested with us. In the end, the tree was the only thing to be arrested on that day. It was excavated brutally from the earth by the police, leaving an ugly hole in its place. We were all a little shaken by the experience, but proud of the effect that our act of solidarity had created. Making connections, crossing barriers of time and place, being human with one another, are to me important elements of peacemaking that cannot really be measured or evaluated. You have to trust others and be open to accept whatever may happen during, and as a consequence of your actions. And this too is what peacemaking is about: finding freedom in doing what is right and creating human security in the process."
Pax Christi British Section (PCBS) Peace Education Network (PEN) Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD)