While serving a two-year term at the Federal prison in Allenwood, PA, in 1998 Steve Kelly, SJ was interviewed by America, The National Catholic Weekly. The article was titled “A Prisoner for Peace: An Interview with Steve Kelly.” Steve was doing time for his participation in the Prince of Peace Plowshares that took place the previous year.
Before dawn on Feb. 12, 1997, Ash Wednesday, Steve, Philip Berrigan, Steve Baggerly, Susan Crane, Mark Colville and Tom Lewis-Borbely boarded the USS The Sullivans, an Aegis destroyer, at the Bath Iron Works in Maine. They poured their own blood and used hammers to beat on the hatches covering the tubes from which nuclear-armed missiles can be fired and unfurled a banner which read Prince of Peace Plowshares “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks…” Isaiah 2:4.
The government, rather than taking an introspective look at its unhealthy (and illegal) relationship with nuclear weapons, threw the book at Steve and friends. That was one of many times that Steve would serve time for putting his unwavering faith into action. Today, nearly 14 years since the interview in America, Steve once again resides in what has become a monastic setting over the years – a prison cell (and a “solitary” one at that).
The interview in America gives a glimpse into the heart and mind of our dear friend Steve Kelly. Joe and Theresa Power-Drutis resurrected the original article, complete with a photo of Steve in his earlier years as a Jesuit. Click here to read the article (PDF format).
Steve is still very much a “Prisoner for Peace.” The last question in the magazine interview sums up why he continues his nuclear abolition work against such huge odds. Carry on Steve!!! And – May we all carry on with you!!!
You will be 50 on your next birthday. What are your hopes about the future?
My hope is that the church will really become a peace church. I realize that what I’ve done is not what most people would call being an effective witness. I don’t expect the culture as a whole to change overnight. The people I would like to reach are people of faith and belief. As for what I’ll be doing in the future, as long as nuclear weapons are being made for use on human beings, I’ll try to resist their creation.