Praising, Blessing, Preaching on the way to Jerusalem
Jackie Hudson, OP; Carol Gilbert, OP and Ardeth Platte OP
From the Dominican Sisters International Newsletter
Jackie Hudson, OP, Carol Gilbert, OP and Ardeth Platte OP greet you in gratitude and deep love across the miles. We remember your goodness, support, letters, participation with us during the Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares II action of 2002, our years in prison, and our three years of supervised release . We completed our time when we received our third final formal letter on March 12, 2009. We do continue the journey.
(complete May newsletter)
Our Dominican Community in Grand Rapids, MI has nourished this vocation, our tenets of faith, challenging us to live holistic lives. They have commissioned us in times of hardship and taken opposition from those who keep the systems of weapons, warmaking, and walls constructed. Together we are on record as a Congregation in our direction statements for a new vision of a World Free of Nuclear Weapons.
Sister Jackie returned to Ground Zero - Center for Nonviolent Action in Bremerton , Washington where she continues to witness and organize with an extended peace community at the Bangor Trident Base, which holds one fourth of the United States nuclear weapons, along with eight nuclear Trident submarines and two with conventional weapons. She lives at the Ground Zero meeting space with a lay woman and mother and together they have been providing an enormous series of support for the Disarm Now Plowshares (two Jesuit priests, a Religious Sister of the Sacred Heart and two laywomen). These five entered the base to symbolically and nonviolently disarm the missile site at the bunkers containing nuclear weapons. They did so on All Souls Day, 2009. Sister Jackie continues preaching the Gospel through her presence at the nuclear site through leafletting, bannering, doing actions and attending court proceedings. During our three years of probation Jackie, Carol and Ardeth did presentations in twenty-one states in colleges, schools, churches, organizations, theaters, and in homes. We each continue doing nonviolent actions that bear arrests along with court proceedings, jail, or community service as consequences.
Sisters Carol and Ardeth live at Jonah House in Baltimore, Maryland which is a longstanding community, formed during the Vietnam War in 1973 by Philip Berrigan and Elizabeth McAlister and is persistent in the quest for total abolition of nuclear weapons and an end to war forever. Preceding this move in 1995 we had organized and witnessed for twelve years at two nuclear weapons bases, living in the midst of and befriending the military personnel in the villages for five years. Finally the Strategic Air Command bases were closed and all the nuclear weapons were transferred from the communities. Michigan became nuclear weapons free by the grace of God and lots of peacemakers doing resistance on a regular basis.
Jonah House is a faith-based, nonviolent, civil resistance community to weapons of mass destruction and war. During these fifteen years we have lived with more permanent lay family members and many young and older persons who come for more temporary periods of time. It is a wonderful experience to share with lay families and to help them at times in the raising of their children.
We are blessed in daily prayer together, in our worship services, our communal life and our consistent dedication to a world of justice and peace. We delve into the Scriptures wholeheartedly and make the necessary changes in our own lives according to the way of the nonviolent Jesus and prophets of the past and prophets in these times. We try to conspire, breathe in the Spirit of God, who challenges us to love, to forgive, to include all people, to become more faithful to creation.
PILLARS OF JONAH HOUSE are community as a mandate, nonviolence as a way of life, and resistance as a practice of opposition to nuclear weapons and war.
Community - consists of living in unity with each other. Peacemakers came together with materials and skills to build a larger community house space which was turned over to the diocese for ownership and in return leased from them. We have a common work as caretakers of a formerly desecrated and abandoned diocesan cemetery. (In the earlier years we were painters.) We believe deeply in being self-sustaining and living below the poverty wage, so we merely request a donation for caring for this 22 acre land. This conscience decision keeps us from paying war taxes. We mow weekly when needed, beautify the numerous flower beds, and caretake the property and land. (Burials discontinued in 1963.) We hold a common purse (though we Sisters share our extra donations with the Dominican Sister community). All possessions and funds for work are held and used for all members in the community. We practice consensus decision-making in our more weighty or serious decisions. We have a monthly retreat day and weekly Sunday night scheduling meeting. These keep us communicating, sharing concerns and solving situations. We have planted fruit trees throughout the cemetery and have large community gardens of vegetables and fruit. We preserve food for the seasons by canning and freezing sufficient food for ourselves and hundreds of visitors and we share food purchased from the Food Bank along with fresh foods from the gardens with more than a hundred homeless and persons in need who come weekly to the Jonah House Food pantry. No one is turned away in these difficult times.
Nonviolence - consists of living a simple lifestyle. We attempt to use water sparingly, prepare simple meals and eat them together, be careful regarding the use of electricity, use fuel only when necessary (Hybrid car helps), Our rain barrels collect water for garden and flower bed use. We compost and recycle everything possible, have animals for assisting in grazing cemetery areas to be able to avoid excessive mowing, use a compost toilet. We work on stewardship by caring for everything in house and shed. In this way of life we realize we have a long way to go and much to learn. Besides studying the Scriptures and writings of Scripture scholars, we study the signs of the times, read and listen to the news from all sides and perspectives. As Dominicans we hope to learn truth, preach truth and live truth in these present times.
Our nonviolent lives midst the poorest have been opened to the practices, policies, structures, and systems of the United States government, corporations and institutions. We continually ask the question how their decisions affect land, air, water, space and people, especially those made poor in this country and in the rest of the world. The answer often brings us to living resistance.
Resistance - standing firmly against empire building, violence, killing, crimes against humanity and Earth. We focus on nuclear weapons as the taproot of all violence since it is a threat for omnicide and ecocide. We understand the United States superpower status and recognize it deprives our mutuality in the union of nations. We see war as waged for resources that belong to the countries in which the nation intervenes. The division of nations into enemy and ally is not fitting the faith we need to practice. We consider ourselves world citizens and desire a sisterhood and brotherhood, a friendship with all people, with no enemy, no exclusions, no oppressed and marginated people. We believe that all violences are connected: that poverty, climate change, poisoning and contamination of Earth, war, waste of resources, torture, weapon use, domestic violence, walls between nations, lack of basic human needs, immigration problems and unemployment, etc. are programmed into the culture of greed, abuse of power and defiance of our faith.
We consider ourselves world citizens and desire a sisterhood and brotherhood.....
Our civil resistance, plowshare actions, and witnesses often result in arrests, jail and prison time or community service. We become one with the powerless at these times and find ministry and being ministered to a deepening of faith, Gospel realities, a true challenge to nonviolence, a walk with those who are often hopeless and kept from becoming all that God made them to be.
Our Jonah House community preaches through Faith and Resistance Retreats and actions annually during Holy Week, Hiroshima through Nagasaki days, and Holy Innocent days in December. We organize processions in the streets of Washington DC, leaflet, carry banners, and commit civil resistance to weapons and war at the Pentagon, White House, Air and Space Museum , Dept. of Energy, various embassies depending on the need for action. We conduct retreat sessions at Jonah House annually with college students who come to live with us during their weekly spring breaks. Other groups of adults, organizations, school children from Bible studies, church groups, etc. spend days with us in dialogue over our way of life. We gather with Catholic Worker groups and individuals who have named ourselves, Atlantic Life Community. In these days we pray, share our lives and actions, and plan to unite in coalitions for future actions in the work for peace.
Peacemaking with justice is not an easy road to travel. It is a slow lifelong journey to Jerusalem and the most blessed way to give our lives. Thanks be to God!