Remembering Daniel Berrigan 1921 – 2016

DanBerrigan peace signHandcuffs

Daniel Berrigan, former resident activist at RCNV in our founding year, widely known nonviolent resister, poet, author, social critic, Jesuit priest, and with William Stringfellow a significant donor towards the RCNV remodel, died April 30, 2016 at age 94.

New York Times article about Dan Berrigan:http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/01/nyregion/daniel-j-berrigan-defiant-priest-who-preached-pacifism-dies-at-94.html?_r=0

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/postscript-daniel-berrigan-1921-2016

The Resource Center for Nonviolence, founded in 1976, had a rich history with Daniel Berrigan. Dan Berrigan was the first “resident” at RCNV in April, 1977. The residency program brought people committed to nonviolence to stay for a period of time to share in the life of the Center. Dan spent a month meeting with classes at UCSC, offering several workshops, public lectures, poetry readings, and meeting people informally. He spoke to several hundred people at Page Smith’s “Penny University” at Cafe Pergolesi in Santa Cruz.

sm Dan Berrigan 1977

1977: Conversations in Nonviolence with Dan Berrigan during his RCNV residency.

Over the years, the Resource Center for Nonviolence maintained a close connection with Daniel Berrigan. He visited several times in those early years, and baptized Ben Kennedy (son of Scott and Kris Kennedy) and Isaac Klotz-Chamberlin (son of Peter and Liz Klotz-Chamberlin) in 1979.  Scott Kennedy was a one of a few trustees for the estate of  theologian William Stringfellow. Stringfellow owned a cottage on Block Island, RI.  Dan was one of the Catonsville Nine, whose members doused Selective Service files in Catonsville, Maryland, with napalm. After Catonsville, Dan had gone underground, eluding the F.B.I. for four months before he was captured on Block Island in 1970. Dan Berrigan continued to live on the Block Island property until only a few years ago. Proceeds from the sale of that property benefited the Resource Center’s Building for the Future campaign.

Evidence for the Prosecution

The boxes of paper ash      The size of infant caskets     Were rolled in on a dolly,    Heaped there like cord wood    Or children after a usual      Air strike on Hanoi.    I heard between heartbeats     Of Jesus and his hangman    The children’s mouths mewing    For the breasts of murdered women     The blackened hands beating    The box of death for breath.

— Daniel Berrigan, “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine”

 

Poem by Dan Berrigan written on the wall of Peter and Liz Klotz-Chamberlin’s house, 1977

Then

Showed me he
in his right hand
every thing that is
The hand was a woman’s
Creation, all, lusty,
A meek bird’s egg
Nesting there, waiting
a word,
and I heard it
Newborn, I make you
Nestling, I love you
Homing, I keep you
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