Anne Montgomery remembered: “new birth, new time, new humanity”

Editor’s Introduction:  Dear Friends, Art Laffin, of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington D.C., wrote the following remembrance of our dear friend (and co-conspirator in the creation of God’s vision of a world at peace and with justice for all) Anne Montgomery, who died last year on August 27th.  It is, as is appropriate, mostly in Anne’s own words.  Anne’s words and witness in her life live on long after her passing; may they give us all strength for the long journey.  In our common humanity and in Peace, Leonard

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Dear Friends,

Today is the first anniversary of Anne’s home-going to God. I/we give thanks for Anne’s life and for all she did to make the Word flesh! We know Anne is advocating for us as she is among the cloud of witnesses in paradise.

Below is Anne’s letter that she sent out describing her cancer and expressing gratitude to all those she walked with and accompanied in the earthly vineyeard.

Anne comforting a Palestinian girl as she watches her family's orchard being destroyed by Israeli bulldozers, August or Sept. 1998. (courtesy of Christian Peacemakers)

Anne comforting a Palestinian girl as she watches her family’s orchard being destroyed by Israeli bulldozers, August or Sept. 1998. (courtesy of Christian Peacemakers)

In light of the Empire’s ongoing violence, past and present, including now the latest US military threats against Syria, the below poem by Anne speaks to the heart of the matter.

Anne Montgomery–presente!

With gratitude, Art

March 1, 2012 letter Anne wrote to friends describing her cancer and really a final farewell:

“I have been on chemotherapy for cancer, and it seemed to be helping, but, last weekend I had breathing problems and tests showed a lung full of fluid and that continuing any chemo, etc. would not help. I have been blessed by so much support, personal, and medical, that I know I must share that in some way with all those across our world who lack so much and are near desperation, especially for their children. I also know that the Spirit prays at the heart of the universe and that creation is an ongoing journey of death and resurrection, however mysterious that process is. Because it is energized by Love, we can enter into it rather than count on our own weak efforts and vulnerabilities and worry about failures. When I made my final vows, our group was named, “Joy in the Faith,” I am coming to believe that must somehow be possible since it is promised in the Beatitudes and that those who have nothing show us the way.

I am constantly filled with gratitude to you all who have done the nitty-gritty work of peace and nonviolent action and invited me to join you. I hope to be able to do so in a new way. As Phil Berrigan said in his last letter, that work must come from our own vulnerability. Much love, Anne.

FEAST OF THE INNOCENTS:1991
In Memoriam: Mass Graves

by Sr. Anne Montgomery, RSCJ

A voice in Ramah — a voice in Panama, Iraq–
weeping,
as yet again, Herod proclaims new birth
a threat,
the young expendable,
beginnings buried:
bulldozed into ditches,
shoveled into unmarked graves,
cast into the sea,
or flamed to ashes.

But in the sand and sea,
grass and cinders,
in silences,
the question will not die:
“Where is the one who is born?”
the child who sees with one eye__
or not at all,
who walks with one leg–
or never again,
whose dreams were shattered by shrapnel,
hunger stilled by pain.

The year’s death reminds us of an old story,
a nightmare that will not go away,
but, dragon-like, rises from the sea,
blinds the dawn,
blasphemes God’s name and dwelling
with fire from heaven
on those, uncounted, who do not count:
“You the nameless, do not exist.”
So it has been decreed,
for to allow the naming,
to confess reality and promise,
means new birth,
new time,
new humanity

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Sr. Anne Montgomery, Plowshares leader against nuclear weapons, dies; National Catholic Reporter Online; Aug. 29, 2012

Palm Sunday Vigil at SeaTac

A small band of the faithful gathered on a cold, rainy Palm Sunday at the SeaTac Federal Detention Center in Seattle, Washington.  It was fitting that this year’s Palm Sunday fell on April Fools Day.  On that day a little over two thousand years ago God’s Foolish One came riding into town on a donkey.  Although there were no donkeys present at SeaTac on Sunday, followers of the nonviolent way converged on SeaTac Federal Detention Center, where Steve Kelly, SJ continues to dwell in his “solitary” monastery – the Special Handling Unit (SHU). Continue reading

Steve Kelly: Still a Prisoner for Peace

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.

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