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Seattle-born nun receives peace award

Holy Names Academy grad has addressed nuclear and peace issues working in Japan and at the United Nations.
Sister Jean Fallon at a demonstration

Sister Jean Fallon at a demonstration Courtesy of the Maryknoll Sisters

Sister Jean Fallon, who grew up in Seattle, will receive an award Sunday for her decades of work on behalf of peace.

Fallon is a member of the Maryknoll Sisters. She will receive the Sister Christine Mulready Peacemaker Award from Pax Christi Metro New York, a part of the Pax Christi International organization. The Catholic peace group, independent of church hierarchy, works on peace, justice and human rights issues. The group said it is honoring Fallon for work on nuclear abolition and Palestinian rights.

Fallon is a 1947 graduate of Seattle's Holy Names Academy, which honored her just three years ago as a distinguished alumna for professional career achievements. She grew up on Capitol Hill's Aloha Street, within walking distance of the school, with her late parents Leo W. and Bertha Fallon. Two brothers, Robert and William, are also deceased; William Fallon worked as a printer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

She currently lives at the Maryknoll Sisters Center near Ossining, New York, where she has remained active in peace and environmental issues, including protests against the practice of fracking to extract oil or natural gas.

The Maryknoll Sisters sent Fallon to Kyoto in 1951 after she had studied Japanese at Yale University. She worked in Catholic parishes in the Kyoto diocese for 23 years. During a stint back in the Pacific Northwest, she focused on educating people about what was happening in the countries where the Maryknolls had missions. "This work in the Northwest changed both me and my work when I returned to Japan, where I became part of the National Catholic Peace and Justice Committee," she told Holy Names students when accepting the alumna award in 2011.

In Japan, she co-authored a bilingual book on peace education and co-edited a book of reflections by survivors of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She also helped arrange visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki for those interested in learning more nuclear issues.

She returned to the United States in 2001 and joined the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, where she did work with the United Nations. In 2007, she was part of a Christian Peacemaker Team working in Palestine and has returned there several times since.

Fallon said during a recent phone conversation that she has been involved with efforts urging New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to keep a ban on fracking in place. In a blog post after joining an April protest outside a Cuomo fundraising event, she wrote, "Some analysts conclude that fracking is a last-ditch effort of a waning industry to remain profitable with the rise of and urgent necessity for clean energy. Let us hope so and let us continue to resist their powerful efforts."

Joe Copeland is political editor for Crosscut. You can reach him at Joe.Copeland@crosscut.com.


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