Purple Ribbon for Peace Award


Therese Terns of Dearborn, recipient of Pax Christi’s 2022 Purple Ribbon for Peace Award April 23 at Saints Simon and Jude Catholic Church in Westland.


DEARBORN – Pax Christi of Michigan member Therese Terns of Dearborn was honored April 23 with the group’s 2022 Purple Ribbon of Peace Award at Saints Simon and Jude Church in Westland.

Pax Christi of Michigan, a progressive nonprofit peace and justice organization, works to bring about peace locally, nationally and globally through prayer, study and action.

The award, presented by PCM state council member Kim Redigan, recognizes Tern’s work as a peace advocate.

Redigan, who has traveled on mission trips to Haiti and El Salvador with Terns, said she has been “blessed to see her in action.”

“When I think of Therese, the first thing that comes to mind is movement, as in her spirit-driven life, her love of physical movement as a trainer and a peace educator, and the movements for peace and justice that she has been a part of for decades,” she said.

“My purpose in life is to make things happen.”

In addition to being a storyteller and thespian, Terns taught physical education at Sacred Heart School in Dearborn for 24 years, and directed school talent shows and plays.

She also produced and hosted the Dearborn cable television program “Bible Quiz Time” for 33 years.

Terns, the youngest of seven children, said she has been a peacemaker all her life. “I think I have a strain of non-violence in my DNA,” she said. “I witnessed violence in my early family life such that I vowed to myself not to let anger be my compass.”

Terns put her philosophy into action with her students as well. “As a school playground supervisor, I encouraged students to problem solve for the common good and talk to each other rather than react,” she said.

Terns, who joined Pax Christi in 1992, served as the coordinator for the Immaculate Heart of Mary’s Office of Justice, Peace and Sustainability, and is an IHM associate, as well as a pastoral minister at St. Kateri Catholic Church in Dearborn.

She also is a self-employed landscaper, an exercise specialist and personal trainer, and Dearborn Sacred Heart Catholic Church’s media coordinator and its Justice, Peace and Christian Service coordinator.

Redigan said Terns puts her faith into action.

“Whether putting on her sandals to climb the hills of Haiti or lacing up her sneakers to participate in a CROP Walk, Therese exemplifies the scripture, ‘How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15),’” she said.

Terns said her Christian faith has guided her to live a Gospel-driven life. “The Beatitudes are my commandments,” she said. “I follow the non-violent Jesus, and believe that we must be ‘doers of the Word’ as it says in James 1:22.”

For several decades, Terns has been involved with Salvadoran solidarity work, traveling to El Salvador with delegations & hosting Salvadorans in the United States through the Systemic Homeland Approach to Reducing Exploitation.

While in El Salvador, she helped with earthquake reconstruction through the Romero Foundation, built playgrounds, introduced water purifiers, helped build housing, investigated sweatshops and hosted prayer vigils.

Terns also has advocated for peace in Nicaragua, Iraq, Haiti and Palestine through the Michigan-based Meta Peace Team.

She said she gets her energy for her work from her sense of purpose and passion. “My purpose in life is to make things happen,” Terns said. “I have learned to listen first, to respond rather than react, and I think a peacemaker must have a knowledge of self and of intention of action.”

She said being kind to others is a way of life for her. Redigan concurred.

“Over her life, this spirit of openness, compassion and reflection have opened up many doors for Therese,” she said. “We are so grateful that she walked through one marked ‘Pax Christi.’”