Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community
We Can't Do It Without You!  
     
Home | About Us | Donate | Signup | Archives
   
 
   Featured Views  
 

Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article
 
 
Berrigan's Living Sacrifice for Peace
Published on Tuesday, December 10, 2002 by the Philadelphia Inquirer
Berrigan's Living Sacrifice for Peace
by Stephen Oldham
 

Our paths crossed in the late 1970s in Washington. I was a Franciscan brother attending a retreat at a local church, and Philip Berrigan was the main speaker. Here in person was the man who had spent time in federal prison for a variety of nonviolent yet provocative actions protesting war and nuclear proliferation. His style was like John the Baptist, very in-your-face, challenging all of us to do more to promote peace through acts of civil disobedience. Berrigan was a living sacrifice for peace; he seemed never to tire.

Since that weekend, my life was never the same. Going public in opposition to my country's policies was a huge jump for my family and me. I felt my father's hurt. Many colleagues and friends didn't understand. I experienced a tiny sampling of Phil Berrigan's many sacrifices. He spent a total of 11 years in prison for his protests. My one night in a Washington jail was an eye-opener: the cup of cold coffee, stale peanut butter sandwich, steel bunk without a mattress, variety of insects, lights left on all night, and the sounds of the screams of fellow inmates. I also never felt more alive and in solidarity with the victims of our society.

The last time I heard him speak was during the summer, and I remarked how frail he seemed. Later, I learned he had been suffering with cancer. But while his body was weak, his words were as strong as ever. Even at the end of his life, he was faithful to the call of God, tireless in warning against our apparent societal compulsion to destroy the planet. His solution was simple: to be living witnesses to the love of God for all humanity regardless of race, religion, gender and nationality, communicated through self-sacrificial acts of mercy and justice, trying to disturb business as usual with a human cry for sanity and solidarity.

Stephen Oldham (soldham@sjprep. org), a former Franciscan, lives and writes in Cheltenham. He offered this reflection Sunday at St. Vincent's Church in Germantown.

###

Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article
 
     
 
 

CommonDreams.org
Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.
Independent, non-profit newscenter since 1997.

Home | About Us | Donate | Signup | Archives

To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.