Reflections: In Loving Memory of Susan Van Schoonhoven
March 5, 2008
To our Sister in Peace and her loving family,
Each year the IPJ Women PeaceMakers Program takes place for two months. During the fall, Peace Writers interview their peacemakers and engage in extensive research to become familiar with the histories of the conflicts and their peacemakers’ work. The relationships fostered are often long-lasting and stretch around the world.
From Nepal to Uganda, from the ceasefire line to the classroom, the Women PeaceMakers Program inspires, develops and supports a community dedicated to relieving the pain of violent conflict and fostering a just world.
This family, this community of peacemakers, collectively shares the memory of Susan Van Schoonhoven. While the loss is shocking, her spirit and life will continue to thrive in the relationships and work Sue cultivated and fostered.
We, as expressed below, hold her in our hearts. We light a candle in her name, to keep the peace flame burning. We plant a tree to carry her memory into the future. We raise our voices to say: Niswan Kulu gi wala – "All the women are shining."
As a sister in peace, Sue will always shine in each of our hearts.
"Dee, Emi and the Peace-Makers family, I receive this news this morning with profound sadness and breaking heart. Sue was more than a peace writer to me. She became a sister and at times a counselor as many times she unearthed stories and moments that were reminding me of difficulties I went through in search of peace in my country. … May the Lord rest her soul in eternal peace."
- Rebecca Joshua Okwaci, Sudan
"My heart is filled with sympathy on the loss of a beloved Peace Writer. A dedicated worker, whom we all will miss but memories of her work and the beautiful years she shared with IPJ should remind us to keep the peace flame burning. To the family and fellow peacemakers, you are in my thoughts and prayers. May God comfort us all."
- Christiana Thorpe, Sierra Leone
"This is so heartbreaking and a tragic needless loss for a wonderful spirit here on earth. My thoughts go out to Susan's family, who will feel this most deeply; to all of you at IPJ, who were such wonderful mentors to Susan … . Sharing in the sorrow of this news."
- Theresa de Langis, currently in Afghanistan
"I am utterly and totally speechless. I was listening to the CD Sue gave me last week and I wanted to write to her and tell her how I enjoy the music. I know that I already told her about it. Now the enormity of it all hits me, that I can never tell her that. And the planned Uganda trip can never happen.
My dears, I am sure I will be represented at the funeral by you people. Please pass on my condolences to her family. I will always have happy memories of Sue for the beautiful and wonderful soul she was. My prayer she did not suffer and I do appreciate the two and a half months I got to know her, for those wonderful memories will forever be etched in my memory. …
This is still difficult to imagine that Sue is gone. I remember the talent evening we had at the Casa, I keep seeing her stringing away at her guitar and singing.
I will be saying journey masses for you."
- Jackee Batanda, Uganda
"Dear Dee and all IPJ Peace-Maker Community,
I can't believe that we had lost Sue! It is not right, it is not right she was very dear friend. I can't and I don't want to believe that this bad news is true. My condolences to her family and to you all! I will write more later on. I can't focus to writing anything about her right now. Oh God! Forgive me if I say that this was not right and she didn't deserve this!!! I already miss her a lot! I just can't and I don't want to agree that she is gone for ever!"
- Shukrije Gashi, Kosovo
"Please convey my deepest condolences to Susan’s family. I am really heartbroken, even though I have not met Susan before. It would be a big loss to our peacemaking efforts. I admire her beautiful dedication to peace work and pray for her peace in heavenly world forever."
- Hyun-Sook Lee Kim, Korea
"Dear Dee and all.
It's sad to hear about the death of our beloved Sue, may her soul rest in peace. In Uganda we shall offer Prayer (Mass) for her soul and the family members tomorrow. Emi tell the family members, we are with them at this trying moment. Sue worked so hard for peace and contributed a lot in bringing peace through her examples and work. She will never be forgotten by all. God bless"
- Sister Pauline Silver Acayo, Uganda
"I am so sorry to hear about the loss of Susan. I will keep her in my prayers …
All the women I have ever met at the IPJ have been extraordinary women committed to peace and justice, and no doubt, Susan was another sister in Peace."
- Maia Woodward, Cyprus
This is indeed very very sad news. We offer our prayers for our beloved Sue and I know God has prepared a beautiful place for her after doing so much goodness in her lifetime. Keep safe dear women peacemakers and friends."
- Mary Ann Arnado, Philippines
"Even though I did not know her, I feel the loss of one who was helping make this a better world."
- Kathleen Hughart, San Diego
"I am deeply saddened to hear about Sue. It shocked me, as I’m sure it did you. Today my mind has been filled with memories of Sue, and the whole experience as a peace writer. This is so sad. Sue was a beautiful person. …
- Heather Farrell, Canada
"I am so sorry to hear about Sue’s death. She was a model peace writer and will be remembered through her remarkable work."
- Diana Kutlow, San Diego
"I am sorry to hear about this sad news. Though I have never met Susan personally, our common IPJ experience still makes me feel somehow connected to her. She will be in my prayers. My condolences to her family."
- Yasmin Gatal-Hashimoto, Philippines
"She was so full of life – I remember her so well. Even now, I can see her face smiling and laughing."
- Karen Oropeza and Nate Burke, San Diego
"It’s really very sad. Despite that death is part of Life, but sudden and brutal death break always your heart. I knew Sue for a short period of time during her stay at the Casa during the summit. We had the chance to chat little bit but she left me with a strong impression of her commitment and modesty. Hard working with a low profile (which is a rare quality). She is one of the women whom I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet and will continue to remember her with her warm smile, and some of the ideas we exchanged beyond many frontiers.
… when you live for years among deaths, you think that death will not hurt any more, you feel that you are unable to mourn any more but so wrong the loss of a life, especially when it is the result of sudden events or by the hand of mankind is so painful.
This news came at a time where Once more we had to witness, during the last Israeli military actions against Gaza population a big toll of death among civilians, women and children, some time a whole family and family not been able to bury properly there beloved one it full your heart with sadness, anger, bitterness, an awful feeling of being helpless, knowing that you have to overcome these feelings to defend the right to live.
Sue’s sudden death bring a lot of sadness she was young and had still a lot to give. May God bless her soul, and may she rest in peace, and god help her beloved one to bear this loss.
Emi, please forward to her family and beloved one our sharing of their sorrow. I do not know what is your custom, but I would like from you if possible to put on my behalf a rose on her grave and light a candle in the church.
Be safe all of you
Warmest feelings and thoughts"
- Samia Bamieh, Palestine
This morning was a worship day for Buddhist practitioners. My group and I went to the Wat and had chanted for Sue's soul to be safe and peaceful.
Sue left us but she is good role model for all peacemakers and friends from all over the world. Her great values, knowledge, skills and achievement still remain and remind us all the time. I personally keep all of you as role model for my life in peace building.
In Loving Memory of SUSAN"
-Thavory Huot, Cambodia
It is sad news obviously. Sue has done a great job in IPJ. … Sue will stay in our hearts eternally without end. I am sending condolence to all her family, IPJ and all women peacemakers."
-Zahra U. Farah, Somalia
"I feel grateful to have met her so briefly at the summit, and quite honestly, it was her narrative that I first admired among those posted ... and I remember feeling a little embarrassed to talk to her about her process when sitting by her in that hot and smoky conference room. I feel a great loss."
-Stelet Kim, San Francisco
"It was so sad to hear about the death of Sue who stayed at the Casa with us. She was a nice girl and I chatted with her [every] morning. May her soul rest in peace."
-Susana Tenjoh-Okwen, Cameroon
"I did not know Susan and had not really known of her until today, but I have seen first-hand the effect her passing has had on a friend who surely must have loved her. She must have been a truly amazing woman. The warm, smiling face in the photographs illustrates vividly what a great treasure we have lost."
-Jessica Partain, San Diego
"We have lost Sue, but what she had done will continue shining at IPJ and in our hearts.
May we continue to shine as "Niswan Kulu gi wala." All the women are shining.
Thank you all and may God bless you."
- Rebecca Joshua Okwaci, Sudan