Peace Activist Daniel Berrigan, S.J., to Visit SJU

Friday, February 8, 2008

PHILADELPHIA (February 8, 2008) – Daniel Berrigan, S.J., poet-in-residence at Fordham University and one of the world's leading peace activists, will visit Saint Joseph's University for "An Evening with Daniel Berrigan" on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m., in the Chapel of St. Joseph–Michael J. Smith, S.J., Memorial. Fr. Berrigan will reflect on his experience of war protest, civil disobedience and imprisonment, and will also read from his poetry.

"Fr. Berrigan's personal sacrifices over the years, as well as his lifetime commitment to peace and justice, have taught several generations of American students a more profound understanding of the real meaning of the Catholic moral tradition and its roots in the gospels" said Frank Morris, Ph.D., executive director for the Office of Mission. "We welcome him to Saint Joseph's University."

Fr. Berrigan entered the Society of Jesus in 1939. Along with his late brother, Philip, and the late Trappist monk Thomas Merton, he formed an interfaith coalition against the Vietnam War, but his activism began with the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s. He is also co-founder of the Catholic Peace Fellowship.

He is perhaps best known for his involvement with two civil disobedience actions of conscience. In 1968, he and his brother Philip and seven others broke into the Catonsville, Md., draft board and poured homemade napalm over draft files. The group came to be known as the Catonsville Nine. Fr. Berrigan later wrote a play in free verse about the incident, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine.

Twelve years later in 1980, Fr. Berrigan, his brother Philip and six others broke into the General Electric Nuclear Missile Facility in King of Prussia, Pa., and damaged nuclear warhead nose cones and destroyed files. This group is known as the Plowshares Eight. The legal battle surrounding the break-in was documented in the 1982 film, In the King of Prussia.

Fr. Berrigan has published 15 volumes of poetry, and his first book of poems, Time Without Number, was nominated for the National Book Award. In 1989, he received the Pax Christi USA Pope Paul VI Teacher of Peace Award for outstanding work in promoting the culture of peace and non-violence.

"An Evening with Daniel Berrigan" is sponsored by Saint Joseph's University's Office of Mission and Identity; the office of the Dean, College of Arts and Sciences; Campus Ministry; the Faith-Justice Institute; the Jesuit Community; and the departments of philosophy and theology. The event is free and open to the public.

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