Sister Ardeth Platte, 69, celebrates her release from a federal prison in Danbury, Conn., on Thursday. Two other nuns also involved in the 2002 missile-silo protest had drawn lighter sentences. (AP / Douglas Healey)

The last of three pacifist nuns convicted of using their blood to deface a Weld County missile silo in 2002 was released Thursday from a federal prison in Connecticut, vowing that she'll continue her fight against nuclear weapons even if it means dying behind bars.

Sister Ardeth Platte, 69, was released from Danbury Federal Correctional Institution after completing a 41-month sentence. She was not due to be released until May 31, but a judge gave her credit for time already served, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

"What we did to that missile silo was such a beautiful liturgical act; the retaliation by the government was harsh, and in a sense I believe it's what God wanted, to awaken people," Platte said in a phone interview from Baltimore.

"Whatever the judges and prosecutors and these systems do upon us is nothing compared to the suffering the government is causing across the world."

Platte and Sisters Jackie Hudson and Carol Gilbert, who are of the Dominican Sisters order in Grand Rapids, Mich., were convicted in 2003 of obstructing national defense and damaging government property after they cut through a chain-link fence at a Minuteman III silo northeast of Greeley and used baby bottles to draw a sign of the cross in their own blood.

Gilbert and Hudson already had been released, but because of her longer history of such protests, Platte received a longer prison term. She must serve three years' probation.

"They wanted harshness for us to influence other people not to do the same as we did," Platte said.

"But we all came out of prison much stronger, much more committed and much more passionate about the issues than when we went in."

A large group gave hugs to Platte upon her release before she exited the low-security facility in Danbury to a throng of national media.

Fellow prisoners often worried about Platte's health. She suffered from a cataract in her right eye and is ailing from an allergic reaction that caused a rash to spread over much of her body, she said.
While in prison, Platte shared a small room with six other inmates at times.
"It was very crowded, not the easiest conditions," Platte said. "I think a lot of the women inmates in there were just shocked that a sister and a woman of my age would be in prison with them."
The three sisters say they'll still focus on prayer for peace, fasting and supporting anti-war efforts while keeping with the conditions of their paroles.
One of the conditions Gilbert and Hudson have faced is a travel ban. Gilbert is forbidden from leaving Maryland, while Hudson must stay in Washington state.
The sisters could find themselves in Colorado again if a hearing is required to settle a dispute over the payment of $3,000 in restitution to the U.S. Air Force. They have vowed never to pay up.
"We are indigent as Roman Catholic sisters, and in good conscience we cannot pay the money for war-making," Gilbert said in a phone interview.
Their defense attorney, in filings to federal District Court this week, requested that the restitution be waived in lieu of almost $600,000 that was donated to charitable and peace organizations across the world in the sisters' names.
Staff writer Manny Gonzales can be reached at 303-820-1537 or .