---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 08 Jan 2003 16:24:34 -0800
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Philip Berrigan, Anti-War Activist, Dies at Home in Baltimore, MD
From: "Voice4Change" <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 07 Dec 2002
Philip Berrigan, Anti-War Activist, Dies at Home in Baltimore, MD
Baltimore, MD - Phil Berrigan died December 6, 2002 at about 9:30 PM, at
Jonah House, a community he co-founded in 1973, surrounded by family and
friends. He died two months after being diagnosed with liver and kidney
cancer, and one month after deciding to discontinue
chemotherapy. Approximately thirty close friends and fellow peace
activists gathered for the ceremony of last rites on November 30, to
celebrate his life and anoint him for the next part of his journey.
Berrigan's brother and co-felon, Jesuit priest Daniel Berrigan officiated.
During his nearly 40 years of resistance to war and violence, Berrigan
focused on living and working in community as a way to model the
nonviolent, sustainable world he was working to create. Jonah House
members live simply, pray together, share duties, and attempt to expose the
violence of militarism and consumerism. The community was born out of
resistance to the Vietnam War, including high-profile draft card burning
actions; later the focus became ongoing resistance to U.S. nuclear policy,
including Plowshares actions that aim to enact Isaiah's biblical prophecy
of a disarmed world. Because of these efforts Berrigan spent about 11 years
in prison. He wrote, lectured, and taught extensively, publishing six
books, including an autobiography, Fighting the Lamb's War.
In his last weeks, Berrigan was surrounded by his family, including his
wife Elizabeth McAlister, with whom he founded Jonah House; his children
Frida, 28, Jerry, 27, and Kate, 21; community members Susan Crane, Gary
Ashbeck, and David Arthur; and extended family and community. Community
members Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert, Dominican sisters, were unable to
be physically present at Jonah House; they are currently in jail in
Colorado awaiting trial for a disarmament action at a missile silo, the
79th international Plowshares action. One of Berrigan's last actions was
to bless the upcoming marriage of Frida to Ian Marvy.
Berrigan wrote a final statement in the days before his death. His final
comments included this: "I die with the conviction, held since 1968 and
Catonsville, that nuclear weapons are the scourge of the earth; to mine for
them, manufacture them, deploy them, use them, is a curse against God, the
human family, and the earth itself."
The wake and funeral will be held at St. Peter Claver Church in West
Baltimore, (1546 North Fremont Avenue, Baltimore MD 21217); calling hours:
4-8 PM Sunday December 8 with a circle of sharing about Phil's life at 6
PM; funeral: Monday, December 9, 12 PM. All are invited to process with the
coffin from the intersection of Bentalou and Laurens streets to St. Peter
Claver Church at 10 AM (please drop off marchers and park at the
church). A public reception at the St. Peter Claver hall will follow the
funeral mass; internment is private. In place of flowers and gifts for the
offertory, attendees may bring pictures or other keepsakes. Mourners may
make donations in Berrigan's name to Citizens for Peace in Space, Global
Network Against Nuclear Weapons, Nukewatch, Voices in the Wilderness, the
Nuclear Resister, or any Catholic Worker house.
Philip Berrigan, 1923-2002
Born: October 5, 1923, Minnesota Iron Range, near Bemidji to Frieda
Fromhart and Thomas Berrigan
1943-1945: Served in WWII, artillery officer, Europe.
1949: Graduated from Holy Cross College.
1955: Ordained a Catholic Priest in the Josephite Order, specializing in
inner city ministry.
1956-1963: Taught at St. Augustine's high school, New Orleans, a segregated
all black school.
1962 (or 3?): First priest to ride in a Civil Rights movement Freedom Ride.
1963-1965: Taught at a Josephite seminary, Newburgh, NY.
1966: Published first book, No More Strangers.
1966: Served at St. Peter Claver parish, Baltimore, MD.
October 27, 1967: Poured blood on draft files in Baltimore with 3
others. Known as the "Baltimore Four."
May 17, 1968: Burned draft files in Catonsville, MD with 8 others,
including his brother, Fr. Daniel Berrigan. Action known as the
"Catonsville Nine." Convicted of destruction of US property, destruction
of Selective Service records, and interference with the Selective Service
Act of 1967. Sentenced to prison.
1970: Married Elizabeth McAlister, an activist nun, Religious of the Sacred
Heart of Mary.
1970: Became a fugitive when appeals failed. Captured and returned to prison.
1971: Named co-conspirator by J. Edgar Hoover and Harrisburg grand jury
while in prison. Charged with plotting to kidnap Henry Kissinger and blow
up the utility tunnels of US Capitol buildings. Convicted only of
violating prison rules for smuggling out letters.
1973: Co-founded Jonah House community of war resisters in Baltimore, MD.
April 1, 1974: Birth of Frida Berrigan at Jonah House.
April 17, 1975: Birth of Jerry Berrigan at Jonah House.
1975: End of Vietnam War and beginning of focus on weapons of mass
destruction and changing U.S. nuclear policy. Actions included pouring of
blood and digging of graves at the White House and Pentagon resulted in
several jail terms ranging up to six months.
1975: Atlantic Life Community conceptualized as East Coast counterpart to
Pacific Life Community.
1976: First of summer community building sessions; led to triannual Faith &
Resistance Retreats in DC.
September 9, 1980: Poured blood and hammered with 7 others on Mark 12A
warheads at a GE nuclear missile plant, King of Prussia, PA. Charged with
conspiracy, burglary, and criminal mischief; convicted and
imprisoned. Action known as the "Plowshares Eight;" began the
international Plowshares movement.
1980-1999: Participated in 5 more Plowshares actions, resulting in ~7 years
November 5, 1981: Birth of Kate Berrigan at Jonah House.
1989: Published The Times' Discipline, on the Jonah House experience, with
1996: Published autobiography, Fighting the Lamb's War.
December 14, 2001: Released from Elkton, OH prison after nearly a year of
imprisonment for his final Plowshares action.
July 12, 2002: Underwent hip replacement surgery at Good Samaritan
Hospital, Baltimore, MD.
October 8, 2002: Diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, cancer in the liver and kidney.
December 6, 2002: Died at home in Baltimore, surrounded by family and
PHIL'S STATEMENT 12/05/02 (via Elizabeth McAlister)
Philip began dictating this statement the weekend before Thanksgiving. It
was all clear - he had it written in his head. Word for word I wrote...
WHEN I LAY DYING...of cancer
I die in a community including my family, my beloved wife Elizabeth, three
great Dominican nuns - Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert, and Jackie Hudson
(emeritus) jailed in Western Colorado - Susan Crane, friends local,
national and even international. They have always been a life-line to me. I
die with the conviction, held since 1968 and Catonsville, that nuclear
weapons are the scourge of the earth; to mine for them, manufacture them,
deploy them, use them, is a curse against God, the human family, and the
earth itself. We have already exploded such weapons in Japan in 1945 and
the equivalent of them in Iraq in 1991, in Yugoslavia in 1999, and in
Afghanistan in 2001. We left a legacy for other people of deadly
radioactive isotopes - a prime counterinsurgency measure. For example, the
people of Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Pakistan will be battling
cancer, mostly from depleted uranium, for decades. In addition, our nuclear
adventurism over 57 years has saturated the planet w!
ith nuclear garbage from testing, from explosions in high altitudes (four
of these), from 103 nuclear power plants, from nuclear weapons factories
that can't be cleaned up - and so on. Because of myopic leadership, of
greed for possessions, a public chained to corporate media, there has been
virtually no response to these realities...
At this point in dictation, Phil's lungs filled; he began to cough
uncontrollably; he was tired. We had to stop - with promises to finish
later. But later never came - another moment in an illness that depleted
Phil so rapidly it was all we could do to keep pace with it... And then he
couldn't talk at all. And then - gradually - he left us.
What did Phil intend to say? What is the message of his life? What message
was he leaving us in his dying? Is it different for each of us, now that we
are left to imagine how he would frame it?
During one of our prayers in Phil's room, Brendan Walsh remembered a banner
Phil had asked Willa Bickham to make years ago for St. Peter Claver. It
read: "The sting of death is all around us. O Christ, where is your victory?"
The sting of death is all around us. The death Phil was asking us to attend
to is not his death (though the sting of that is on us and will not be
denied). The sting Phil would have us know is the sting of
institutionalized death and killing. He never wearied of articulating it.
He never ceased being astonished by the length and breadth and depth of it.
And he never accepted it.
O Christ, where is your victory? It was back in the mid 1960's that Phil
was asking that question of God and her Christ. He kept asking it. And,
over the years, he learned
· that it is right and good to question our God, to plead for
justice for all that inhabit the earth
· that it is urgent to feel this; injustice done to any is injustice
done to all
· that we must never weary of exposing and resisting such injustice
· that what victories we see are smaller than the mustard seeds
Jesus praised, and they need such tender nurture
· that it is vital to celebrate each victory - especially the
victory of sisterhood and brotherhood embodied in loving, nonviolent community.
Over the months of Phil's illness we have been blessed a hundred-fold by
small and large victories over an anti-human, anti-life, anti-love culture,
by friendships - in and out of prison - and by the love that has permeated
Phil's life. Living these years and months with Phil free us to revert to
the original liturgical question: "O death, where is your sting?"
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