By six o’clock Sunday evening at the Catholic Community Center, a line of people spilled down the stairs and out the door as they came to share a meal with five members of Disarm Now Plowshares. Looking at the crowd, Tom Rogers from the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action admired the dedication of all those who came to show their support. Another form of dedication was obvious as well — seeing such an overwhelming display of support for nuclear abolition, one could sense the decades of study, self-reflection, and community building on the part of so many people, that laid the foundation for these events.
After the potluck dinner, Nipponzan Myohoji monks Gilberto and Senji, along with Denny and Jim, led us in a short procession to St. Leo’s Church. Every pew, every chair was filled as we sang and blessed Anne, Bix, Lynne, Steve, and Susan. St. Leo’s pastor Steve Lantry led us in prayer in solidarity “with the people of the world who do not want war and are ready to walk the difficult road of peace.”
The five each received a prayer shawl whose every stitch represents a prayer for strength and protection. They also received a Native American song and blessing sung for them. Susan and Lynne were commissioned by Dotti Krist-Sterbick on behalf of the lay members of the church, to parallel the commissioning received that morning by those of their group in vowed religious life.
Jackie Hudson OP gave a reflection on the miracles that accompany Plowshares actions, and the teaching moment that this particular action has been for us. “Now that we’ve learned, what do we do with it?” she asked. As we send off our friends, we recognize that this is our call for action.
Bishop Tom Gumbleton of Detroit spoke as well. He reminded us of the United States’ policy of keeping the nuclear option on the table. Reminding us of the atrocities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the fire bombing of Tokyo, he warned us not to be so foolish as to think we aren’t capable of such bloodshed again. Bishop Gumbleton declared that nuclear weapons “must be abolished before they abolish us. It is therefore our intention to challenge the nations of the world not to an arms race but a peace race.”
Anne, Bix, Lynne, Steve, and Susan also spoke. Each gave thanks for the strength and support shown to them by all those gathered. They extended their thanks and blessings to all of us who will carry the torch as they go to prison. “My prayers will be for the people keeping up the work,” Lynne said. Bix said too, “We are so blessed to know that what is happening will be carried on by you. Thank you.”
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