More on Berrigan
- PLEASE POST TO ALL FRIENDS, COLLEAGUES AND LIST SERVES
Dear Family and Friends,
We hold the Jonah House family and community up in prayer now as we
to gather with the multitudes who loved Phil and the example he gave
God bless Phil's soul as he returns to the Creator Almighty. Amen.
Mary Anne Grady Flores
THIS EMAIL INCLUDES:
PHILIP BERRIGAN'S STATEMENT BEFORE HIS DEATH, HIS BIOGRAPHY,
and INFORMATION OF THE WAKE AND FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS and
INFO ON PLACES TO STAY.
>From Jonah House:Hello Everyone,
Phil died tonight at Jonah House. The family is grieving, but also
that his last painful days are over and he can now rejoice. There are
who have helped and supported the family with prayers and food and
words; all of your support is greatly appreciated. All the letters
calls Phil got in his final days showed the strength and compassion of
the beloved community. Please keep checking your email for a
message about housing possibilities in Baltimore if you choose to come
the wake and/or the funeral mass. Folks from Viva House Catholic
(410-233-0488) here in Baltimore have volunteered to coordinate
Jonah House is filled to the brim with family, so please contact Viva
if you need to find a place to stay. See below for specific
about the funeral arrangements (see the last paragraph for pertinent
information). This is the press release the family sent out, as well
chronology of Phil's life and works, and a statement he and Liz write
shortly before his death.
Thanks to you all, and peace be with you.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Becky Johnson, 202-607-9345
Date: December 6, 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,
Jonah House, a community he co-founded in 1973, surrounded by family
friends. He died two months after being diagnosed with liver and
cancer, and one month after deciding to discontinue chemotherapy.
Approximately thirty close friends and fellow peace activists gathered
the ceremony of last rites on November 30, to celebrate his life and
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
violence of militarism and consumerism. The community was born out of
resistance to the Vietnam War, including high-profile draft card
actions; later the focus became ongoing resistance to U.S. nuclear
including Plowshares actions that aim to enact Isaiah's biblical
of a disarmed world. Because of these efforts Berrigan spent about 11
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
wife Elizabeth McAlister, with whom he founded Jonah House; his
Frida, 28, Jerry, 27, and Kate, 21; community members Susan Crane,
Ashbeck, and David Arthur; and extended family and community.
members Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert, Dominican sisters, were
be physically present at Jonah House; they are currently in jail in
Colorado awaiting trial for a disarmament action at a missile silo,
79th international Plowshares action. One of Berrigan's last actions
to bless the upcoming marriage of Frida to Ian Marvy.
Berrigan wrote a final statement in the days before his death. His
comments included this: "I die with the conviction, held since 1968
Catonsville, that nuclear weapons are the scourge of the earth; to
them, manufacture them, deploy them, use them, is a curse against God,
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
4-8 PM Sunday December 8 with a circle of sharing about Phil's life at
PM; funeral: Monday, December 9, 12 PM. All are invited to process
coffin from the intersection of Bentalou and Laurens streets to St.
Claver Church at 10 AM (please drop off marchers and park at the
A public reception at the St. Peter Claver hall will follow the
mass; internment is private. In place of flowers and gifts for the
offertory, attendees may bring pictures or other keepsakes. Mourners
make donations in Berrigan's name to Citizens for Peace in Space,
Network Against Nuclear Weapons, Nukewatch, Voices in the Wilderness,
Nuclear Resister, or any Catholic Worker house.
>From Mary Anne:Kristen Betts has found a church for people to stay with floor space,
St. Matthews Church on Lockraven Ave. and Woodburn St., Balt.
Call Viva House if you'd like to stay there. 1-410-233-0488
The 3 hotels for around $50 a room are:
Best Inn at 1-410-747-8900
Knights Inn at 1-800-843-5644
Homestyle Inn at 1-410-744-1440
Willa Walsh said that all three are near one another and very close to
not too far from Jonah House.
If you have access to a computer and can download real audio, you can
a very moving interview Frida and Jerry about their dad, an update on
Carol, Ardeth, and Jackie's action, and an interview with Phil from
in 1996, by Amy Goodman and Jeremy Scahill, at www.democracynow.org.
can go to the archives and enter the date: Dec.4th 2002. If you want
hear the program from anywhere, anytime, this is how to do it.
PHIL'S STATEMENT 12/05/02 (via Elizabeth McAlister)
Philip began dictating this statement the weekend before Thanksgiving.
was all clear - he had it written in his head. Word for word I
WHEN I LAY DYING...of cancer
I die in a community including my family, my beloved wife Elizabeth,
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
die with the conviction, held since 1968 and Catonsville, that nuclear
weapons are the scourge of the earth; to mine for them, manufacture
deploy them, use them, is a curse against God, the human family, and
earth itself. We have already exploded such weapons in Japan in 1945
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,
people of Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Pakistan will be battling
cancer, mostly from depleted uranium, for decades. In addition, our
adventurism over 57 years has saturated the planet with nuclear
from testing, from explosions in high altitudes (four of these), from
nuclear power plants, from nuclear weapons factories that can't be
up - and so on. Because of myopic leadership, of greed for
public chained to corporate media, there has been virtually no
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
Phil so rapidly it was all we could do to keep pace with it... And
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
was he leaving us in his dying? Is it different for each of us, now
are left to imagine how he would frame it?
During one of our prayers in Phil's room, Brendan Walsh remembered a
Phil had asked Willa Bickham to make years ago for St. Peter Claver.
read: "The sting of death is all around us. O Christ, where is your
The sting of death is all around us. The death Phil was asking us to
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
He never ceased being astonished by the length and breadth and depth
And he never accepted it.
O Christ, where is your victory? It was back in the mid 1960's that
was asking that question of God and her Christ. He kept asking it.
over the years, he learned
that it is right and good to question our God, to plead for
for all that inhabit the earth;
that it is urgent to feel this; injustice done to any is
done to all;
that we must never weary of exposing and resisting such
that what victories we see are smaller than the mustard seeds
praised, and they need such tender nurture;
that it is vital to celebrate each victory - especially the
of sisterhood and brotherhood embodied in loving, nonviolent
Over the months of Phil's illness we have been blessed a hundred-fold
small and large victories over an anti-human, anti-life, anti-love
by friendships - in and out of prison - and by the love that has
Phil's life. Living these years and months with Phil free us to revert
the original liturgical question: "O death, where is your sting?"
Biography of 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
inner city ministry.
1956-1963: Taught at St. Augustine's high school, New Orleans, a
all black school.
1962 (or 3?): First priest to ride in a Civil Rights movement Freedom
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
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,
of Selective Service records, and interference with the Selective
Act of 1967. Sentenced to prison.
1970: Married Elizabeth McAlister, an activist nun, Religious of the
Heart of Mary.
1970: Became a fugitive when appeals failed. Captured and returned to
1971: Named co-conspirator by J. Edgar Hoover and Harrisburg grand
while in prison. Charged with plotting to kidnap Henry Kissinger and
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,
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
blood and digging of graves at the White House and Pentagon resulted
several jail terms ranging up to six months.
1975: Atlantic Life Community conceptualized as East Coast counterpart
Pacific Life Community.
1976: First of summer community building sessions; led to triannual
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
conspiracy, burglary, and criminal mischief; convicted and
Action known as the "Plowshares Eight;" began the international
1980-1999: Participated in 5 more Plowshares actions, resulting in ~7
November 5, 1981: Birth of Kate Berrigan at Jonah House.
1989: Published The Times' Discipline, on the Jonah House experience,
1996: Published autobiography, Fighting the Lamb's War.
December 14, 2001: Released from Elkton, OH prison after nearly a year
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
December 6, 2002: Died at home in Baltimore, surrounded by family and