Grad returns from Iraq with messages from people

Voices from Baghdad presentation emphasizes dialogue and peaceful resolution to pending war | February 10, 2003

As a war with Iraq looms on the horizon, 1995 graduate Mary Schoen concludes a trip to the Middle Eastern country during which she has collected images and messages from the people of Baghdad to be shown to the American people. She is making her first presentation of "Voices from Baghdad" on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 7:00 p.m. in the Cintas Center. Schoen is a member of an international delegation called Voices in the Wilderness, a group that aspires to bring greater awareness concerning the plight of the Iraqi people following the 1991 Gulf War and the subsequent U.S.-led embargo. The delegation monitored the effects of the current embargo on the citizens of Iraq. They returned from Baghdad on Feb. 8. In an e-mail, Schoen says, "This morning we got up early to hear the State of the Union address by President Bush. It was deeply disturbing, as it is apparent that the U.S. is determined to attack the people of Iraq. Iraq is a country of 23 million people, 46 percent of them under the age of 16. A war against Iraq is a war against children and humanity, and the reality of that gives me great and overwhelming feelings of grief." Rosie Miller, professor of theology, is a member of Schoen’s support group for the trip. "I believe strongly about the ethical issues concerning the food and medicine embargo on Iraq, which only weakens the voice of the people," Miller says. "Part of the dialogue is to look at this issue not only from a U.S. perspective, but also from the perspective of the common folk of Iraq." Miller also said that Schoen is leaving the extra money from her trip for a humanitarian cause—either housing or medical treatment. This is not Schoen’s first risk-taking experience. She worked with Catholic relief services in Honduras and has led diplomatic delegations to El Salvador and Guatemala. She received her M.A. in theology from Xavier and formerly worked with the University’s peace and justice program. "Voices from Baghdad" is just one way in which Xavier is participating in a coordinated effort among Jesuit colleges and universities to oppose the pending war in Iraq. This effort includes a presentation and dialogue about peace on Wednesday, Feb. 12, from noon to 1:00 p.m. in the Gallagher Student Center, Room 330. Those in attendance are encouraged to bring a lunch. On Wednesday, Feb. 13, a Mass for peace is being held in Bellarmine Chapel at noon. "Voices of Baghdad" is free and open to the public. For more information about it, visit or contact Miller at 513 745-4248. For more information about the peace dialogue or Mass, contact Ben Urmston, S.J., at 513 745-3320.