As in years past, we began our Lenten journey at the White House, on Ash Wednesday. Joe Byrne and Liz McAlister were there to represent Jonah House.

Liz McAlister, emeritus member of Jonah House, with Michael Walli of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, in Washington, DC.

Participants marked the street in front of the White House with crosses made of ashes.

Follow this link for a full account of the prayer service at the White House, written by Art Laffin of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker:

Report of Ash Wednesday Liturgy of Repentance Outside White House-February 14, 2018


Wonder article about the wonderful work being done by Sisters Ardeth and Carol, with ICANW (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons). Ardeth and Carol left Jonah House to dedicate themselves full-time to this peacemaking work.


2017 was an eventful and adventurous year at Jonah House in Baltimore! During the winter months, we spent some time hibernating. We had to do a lot of splitting and stacking wood for our two wood burning stoves. Later in the winter we were occupied with planning the vegetable and herb gardens, then with planting seeds and cultivating new plants in our greenhouse.

We also had our regular food pantry ministry to keep us busy. Every Monday we went to the Maryland Food Bank to pick up discounted food and free fresh produce, and brought it home in our van to process in the pantry. Then on Tuesdays, from 9am to 12pm, we were in the pantry handing out food boxes to low-income friends in the neighborhood.  Over the year, we gave out almost 4,500 boxes and half as many emergency bags. Unfortunately, we’re seeing more and more demand in West Baltimore, one of the more impoverished and underserved areas of Baltimore.

We had a few student groups visiting us over the winter and into the spring. A group from Xavier University in Cincinnati came for a day in January. They did some work outside at Jonah House, and at Tubman House, near the Gilmore Homes in West Baltimore, where they helped prepare raised garden beds that have been set up in abandoned lots. In the evening, we had a feast and did some reflection on the work of peace and justice in Baltimore, and the rest of the world. This one day was inspiring for one of the Xavier Students in particular: Josh Menke agreed to come back in the summer as an intern (he ended up staying with us for two months). Later, in early March, a group from Loyola University Chicago came to visit for a week, as part of Loyola’s extensive alternative spring break immersion program. Again, they worked at Jonah House and Tubman House. During the week, we broke bread and reflected on the four roots of Jonah House: community, spirituality, activism, and stewardship. In the evenings, we had fun playing “Fishbowl.” The group also had the opportunity to attend a couple of marches. The first was a Women’s Strike march in Baltimore, to commemorate International Women’s Day. The second was a march on the White House by Sioux water protectors from Standing Rock, North Dakota. Finally, a group from Loras College came for a short visit during Holy Week. The day after their visit, they drove to Washington DC, to take part in the Holy Week Faith and Resistance Retreat sponsored by Dorothy Day House. They witnessed at the Pentagon, and were there as Joe Byrne of Jonah House was arrested protesting for peace!

Tucker, Auggie, Joe, Emily, and Evie at BWI airport last January to protest President Trump’s immigration ban.

Jonah House continued to witness for peace and justice when the students went home. Tucker, Joe, and sometimes Emily did public “sits” in which we would go to City Hall Park, across from the War Memorial, in Baltimore, and do silent sitting meditation, while surrounded with signs that proclaimed our deep desire for peace and justice. During the year, Jonah House was also able to participate in events sponsored by the Atlantic Life Community, including two retreats and Faith and Resistance events during the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Holy Week, and the anniversaries of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The summer, as usual, was a busy time at Jonah House. We had our fruit orchard to attend to, beginning with a “pruning party” in early spring. We also had our extensive garden to look after. Emily did much of the work there, with the help of many volunteers, including some of our Tuesday pantry folks. For a bag of produce, they would come Thursday mornings to plant, weed, and harvest. Meanwhile Tucker, with the help of his dad, built a chicken coop and yard. We now have fourteen hens laying upwards of a dozen eggs a day!

Throughout the summer we were able to bring in quite a bit of produce, preserving some of it, using some of it to feed the Jonah House community, the rest of it going into the food pantry boxes. We did pretty well with our fruit trees as well. The figs in particular were prolific, as were the grapes. We were able to harvest quite a few apples too, but the pear harvest was poor. This was due to the fact that the pears ripened a month early and were attacked by fruit-eating hornets. Last year we brought in five or six bushels; this year a half bushel. This brought home to us the very real threat posed by global warming and climate chaos.

Our community life was quite rich in 2017, including lively meals with the children, Auggie and Evie, often followed by quiet sitting meditation after the kids had been put to bed. But there were some changes in the composition of the community, with more to come in 2018. The three “emeritus” members of the community—Liz McAlister, Ardeth Platte, and Carol Gilbert—left us in 2017. Liz moved to New York City, while Ardeth and Carol went to Dorothy Day House in DC, where they plan to devote themselves to their ministry of “itinerant preaching” for peace. All three spent quite a bit of time at the United Nations in New York City educating and lobbying member nations about the Nuclea

r Weapon Abolition Treaty. This treaty was signed on July 7 by most of the world’s nations (but not, alas, the countries—like the United States—that have nuclear weapon arsenals), and will soon be ratified. The main NGO working for the treaty, ICANW (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons), won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017, thanks to the dedicated and selfless efforts of people all over the world, including Liz, Ardeth, and Carol.

Meanwhile, after much discernment, Tucker and Emily decided to leave Jonah House. They and their kids will be moving out in May 2018, so that they can be closer to family in the Midwest, and Tucker can pursue an academic career. Like Liz, Ardeth, and Carol, they will be missed mightily! Joe remains to carry on the work of Jonah House and is excited about welcoming in two new members to the community.  Ausur Amen and Ayo Rodan have been an extensive part of our community and work in west Baltimore over the past two years and are thrilled to be joining Joe in May to continue the work here at Jonah House. The community is still recruiting additional members so if you know anyone who would like to do the work of peace and justice in the context of intentional community, please contact Jonah House.

Finally, we are very grateful for all the volunteers who pitched in during 2017, and those who sent us donations to do our work. We couldn’t do it without you! As Martin Luther King Jr. said in his Christmas Sermon in 1967, “All life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, woven into a single garment of destiny. . . . We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.” Thanks for joining us in our work and play! We hope and pray you will continue to do so in the years to come.


Our dear friends Ardeth and Carol are in Germany protesting at a German airbase where American nuclear weapons are deployed. Here’s a report from Germany:

On Monday, July 17, 2017, Ralph Hutchison <> wrote:

US citizens take action against US nuclear bombs in Europe

Remove US flag; Blockade main gate; Meet with Base Commander

Among the American delegation were CWers:
Steve Baggarly, Virginia;  Susan Crane, California ; Kathy Boylan, Washington, DC.

Others we all know well ….
Srs Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert, Jonah House, Maryland; Ralph Hutchison, OREP Tennessee; John LaForge and Bonnie Urfer, Nukewatch, Wisconsin

A delegation of eleven US citizens joined with activists from China, Russia, Germany, Mexico, The Netherlands, Belgium and Britain at a peace encampment at the German airbase in Büchel, Germany, where US B61 bombs are deployed.

On Sunday, July 16, following the celebration of a Christian liturgy, Dutch and US citizens removed the fence blocking the main entrance to the airbase and proceeded on site, the Dutch delegation carrying bread for a “Bread Not Bombs” action and the US delegation carrying the text of the Nuclear Ban Treaty passed on July 7 at the United Nations in New York City.

More than thirty activists entered the site without incident, passing through the security gate that was accidentally left unlocked and unstaffed. The Dutch delegation placed loaves of bread on the wings of jet fighters; the US delegation lowered the US flag from the flagpole, requested a meeting with the base commander, and read the text of the UN Treaty to soldiers at the base.

After forty-five minutes, guards ran to seal the gates and police were summoned. Eventually, all activists were expelled from the facility without being charged.

On Monday, July 17, activists woke to find themselves prisoners in the peace camp as those attempting to approach the base with banners were rebuffed by police. More than a dozen police vans ringed the roundabout at the gate.

Undeterred, activists traveled through the woods and sat down to block the road leading into the airbase. They were joined by two other teams who traveled to blockade other entrance gates. The US delegation asked again to meet with the Base commander and were told that he would arrive shortly to meet with them.

When the commander arrived, they delivered the Treaty to him and then left the blockade to greet workers arriving at the main gate with banners requesting the removal of US B61 bombs from German soil. The Dutch activists remained in the road for another forty-five minutes before being removed by police. There were no arrests.

The US delegation arrived at the invitation of German activists to participate in a twenty week encampment at Büchel.

In the US delegation: Steve Baggarly, Virginia; Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert, Maryland; Susan Crane, California; Carmella Cole and Ralph Hutchison, Tennessee; Leona Morgan, New Mexico; Zara Brown, Minnesota; John LaForge and Bonnie Urfer, Wisconsin, and Kathy Boylan, Washington, DC.


By Joe Byrne

After their quick and wonderful visit to Jonah House, the Loras College students headed to Washington, DC, to participate in the Holy Week Faith and Resistance Retreat, organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. Like the Loras visits to Jonah House, Loras’s participation in the Faith and Resistance Retreat is a tradition of many years standing. Joe Byrne was able to join the retreat as well.

The retreat began on Holy Thursday. For a good description of the retreat and for highlights, check out the blog entry written by Art Laffin of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker:

Report of Holy Thursday and Good Friday Retreat and Public Witness–April 13-14, 2017–Four Arrested at Pentagon

Good Friday began with a vigil at the Pentagon at 7am. This also is a tradition of a few decades standing. The retreat participants, including the Loras contingent, marched to the Pentagon carrying crosses.

Most of the group filed into the Protest Zone where they did a modified stations of the cross (the reflections of each station are included in Art Laffin’s description). We repeated the stations at the White House later in the day (see below).

Some of the students laid out a huge banner that said “U.S. Empire Crucifies Humanity and our Earth.”

While folks were in the Protest Zone, four people from the retreat attempted a blockade of the Metro entrance. These four included Joe Byrne. The other three risking arrest were Bill Frankel-Streit, Paul Magno, and Kathy Boylan.

Here is Joe and Paul, with their signs, risking arrest.

Those risking arrest are arrested and taken away.

The four people arrested spent a short while in lock up at the Pentagon being processed. They were released with a citation and given a court date. They were able to join the other retreatants for breakfast and to help plan for the noon witness at the White House.

The witness at the White House was similar to that at the Pentagon. There was a dramatization of the stations of the cross, showing those groups who continue to be crucified today. These groups included Iraq and Afghanistan war victims; drone victims; victims of militarism and nuclearism; victims of racial violence, poverty, economic exploitation, torture, and imprisonment; immigrant victim; nonviolent revolutionary victim; and the victim that is our desecrated Earth.

The White House witness ended at 1pm with a final circle with those who participated in the Faith and Resistance Retreat joined by all those who were able to come to the witness at the White House. Shortly thereafter the Loras students were back in the van for the 17-hour trip back to Dubuque, Iowa. We will miss them until they return next year for Holy Week!

Thanks to Lin Romano for providing these photos.


By Joe Byrne

During Holy Week, we had a very full and fulfilling one-day visit from Loras College students. Loras College has been sending a delegation for Holy Week for many years now. We’re so glad to have the tradition continue.

Here is the crew who helped Tucker remove leaves and trash from the south-east corner of the cemetery:

Meanwhile, Emily and a student collected wood chips for Mulch. Auggie helped too!

Here’s the crew helping Emily plow, plant, and mulch the garden:

These lettuce and cooking greens survived the winter and have been replanted so they can flourish over the summer:

Pema in her favorite garden/doggy bed:

And here is the two person crew who helped Joe prepare the food boxes for next week’s food pantry day:



We have begun our endeavor into raising chickens.  Our little chickadees arrived a week and a half ago.  At 7:30 in the morning we received a phone call from our local post office that a little box of peeping chicks had arrived.  Auggie and I rushed out to meet our beautiful new additions.  They are quite cute and we have been enjoying them thoroughly.  We spoil them rotten.  Digging up worms and dandelions daily.  They have already grown now and are trying to fly around.

Tucker and his father have been working diligently on building a nice coop for them.  We have had volunteers come weekly to help in the construction and we are nearly finished.  Now we just need to add a door and nesting boxes.  We will begin working on the run this upcoming week.

We plan on adding more Guineas to the fleet as well.  15 little Keets are due to arrive in June. Hopefully we will be able to keep our newest members happy, healthy and safe from predators 🙂


By Joe Byrne

We were recently graced with the visit of a contingent of seven folks from Loyola University Chicago, as part of their Alternative Break Immersion (ABI) experience.

The group participated in all the usual Jonah House activities, as well as a couple public witness demonstrations that occurred during their visit. On the first day, a Sunday, they participated in the Sunday liturgy with other members of the liturgy circle. Their orientation happened Sunday evening, and included a presentation by Joe on the Jonah House core value of nonviolence, the “ground” in which our four roots delve deep, and from which all the work of Jonah House grows.

The next day, while some were on house crew, cleaning the big house and preparing meals, others were working outside. Here is the “kindling crew,” namely Curtis, Kelsey, and Adimilola, who collected sticks from off the ground in the cemetery, broke them up into kindling sticks, and stored them in boxes.

In addition to our daily community tasks, Tucker, Emily, and Joe gave presentations on the Four Roots of Jonah House. Tucker presented on resistance (activism), Emily on community, Joe on resilience (stewardship). Here the students gaze out the glass doors during one of the presentations. They were otherwise very attentive!

On Wednesday, March 8, the whole community, including the Loyola student group, participated in a Women’s Strike march, to commemorate International Women’s Day. The march in Baltimore was one of many throughout the United States.

Here are Emily and Evie, along with our dear friend Lin Romano, chatting, while listening to speakers, waiting for the march to begin:

 Here the march heads downtown:

Here is Kelsey, with Tucker and Auggie right behind:

Here is Tucker and Auggie again, next to Sidney, with Emily and Matt in front:

One of the stopping points was the Women’s Prison in Baltimore. Some of the Loyola students were struck by the tragic irony of having a women’s prison across the street from a school. It’s quite possible that some of the mothers of the children who attend that school may be in that prison.

Here Adimilola, Sidney, and Emily do their best to support–with their fierce, gentle energy–the women in the prison:

Here is a shot of Tucker and Auggie in front of the woman’s prison:

On Thursday, the Loyola students were at Harriet Tubman House, helping with one of their new garden areas. Joe was in charge of the crew that put sheets over the raised beds (to keep the cats from pooping in them!):

Here is a shot of many of the raised beds covered. In the background are students helping dig holes for poles that are needed to create a grape arbor:

Eddie Conway (center), one of the founders of Tubman House, confers with Tucker and Azar, who is the chief “farmer” at Tubman House:

Here Curtis chats with one of the members of the Tubman House collective:

Here is the group at the end of our time at Tubman House:

You can see more about Tubman House at their Facebook page (Coalition of Friends). All the photos of the Loyola visit to Tubman House are courtesy of Tubman House.

On Friday, on their last full day, the Loyola group participated in two public witness demonstrations. The first was in Washington DC. It was a march on the White House by Sioux water protectors from Standing Rock, and their allies. The water protectors are nonviolently resisting the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), which is being built on their sacred lands and endangers their water supply.

Here Matt holds a sign that says “You Can’t Drink Oil”:

Here Tucker, in his Zen Buddhist priest robes, walks with Eric Martin, editor of a new book collection of the letters of Dan and Phil Berrigan:

Emily and the kids made the hour-long trip to Washington, DC, and part of the march, but Auggie and Evie reached their demonstration limit before the end of the march, and Emily took them back to Baltimore.

Here Ardeth and Carol march with Kathy Boylan of Dorothy Day Catholic Worker (sorry Carol for posting this pic):

We reach the White House:

This is one of the many sign/banners that caught my eye:

The students, who met up with another Loyola Chicago ABI group staying at Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, stayed for the rally that followed. But Tucker and Joe headed back to Baltimore.

Later in the day, some of the Loyola students participated in their second public witness of the day. This was our regular public sit at City Hall Park in Baltimore. Here are the sitters with a special DAPL-themed poster:

Here the bundled-up Tucker, Emily, and Kelsey beam peace from the park towards the war memorial across the street.

These pics show only part of the experience of the Loyola Chicago ABI, and don’t capture all the gifts the students brought to Jonah House (for instance, there are no pictures of “Fishbowl,” the game the group played five nights in a row during their stay). We miss them terribly and hope some or all of them will visit again soon (or perhaps stay for a couple months as interns).



By Joe Byrne

Lent 2017 is underway. On Ash Wednesday, Joe, along with Sisters Ardeth and Carol, traveled to the White House in Washington, DC, to participate in an Ash Wednesday service organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and other Catholic social justice organizations. The message was repentance for the various social evils for which we of the United States are responsible–the sins of genocide towards First Nations peoples, slavery, ongoing racism, xenophobia, and sexism–including the election of the racist, xenophobic, and sexist Donald Trump as president.

Here is Colleen McCarthy, of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, offering a reflection in front of the White House.

Here Ardeth offers a prayer, with Art Laffin, of Dorothy Day Catholic Worker:

Ardeth and Carol as part of the circle:

The oft-seen and ever-pertinent “Wage Peace, Practice Nonviolence” banner from Dorothy Day House:

Here a child makes hew own contribution to the ash crosses on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.

Here Pete Perry stands with Ardeth, who is holding up a poster that memorializes Connie, who spent nearly forty years vigiling for peace in Peace Park (Lafayette Park) across from the White House. This is our second Ash Wednesday without Connie. Last Ash Wednesday, Ardeth and Carol distributed some of Connie’s ashes on the White House lawn. Connie presente!

Here I am holding up some of the art work of the beloved and recently-deceased Sally Hanlon. Her message, in the form of her posters and her very distinctive lettering, as well as the memory of her gentle spirit, survives. Sally Hanlon presente!


By Joe Byrne

Recently I was charged by the community to learn about mushroom inoculation. This does NOT involve giving shots to mushrooms to keep them from getting the flu, but rather seeding logs so that they produce mushrooms (in this case, oyster mushrooms). The inoculation workshop was given by the Baltimore Orchard Project, which is part of Baltimore Civic Works, at Real Food Farm, at Clifton Park, in Baltimore.

The workshop was completely hands-on. The participants collectively inoculated the logs, then at the end of the workshop, each participant picked out a log to take home. The steps included drilling holes into logs (freshly cut logs from healthy, living trees–otherwise, other fungi and bacteria may prevent mushrooms from forming), pounding pegs covered with mushroom spawn into the logs, and sealing the holes with wax.

Here the wax crew works on sealing holes in the logs:

I was able to work on all the crews. In fact, for the log I picked out to take home I cycled through all three crews. That is, I drilled holes in a log, pounded the inoculated pegs into the holes, and then sealed up the holes with wax. Here is the lucky log:

Next, I have to put the log somewhere outside, in a moist shady area, and it should produce a couple crops of mushrooms this summer. And now that I know how to do it, I hope to inoculate other logs–though I don’t really want to cut down one of our healthy trees to do so. Maybe I can get a tree donation, like the huge tulip poplar a tree care company dropped off at St. Peter’s that we still need to cut up with chainsaws (subject of a future blog entry!).


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