This was a bad week for gospel practitioners.I just learned that a giant among Catholic gospelers, Sr.Anne Montgomery passed away in the infirmary of the Sacred Heart Sisters in Atherton, California. Hard on the heels of Sr.Megan Rice’s arrest, this was deeply unsettling to me.
These women are a major part of why I am still a Catholic. Megan Rice is still with us, an 82 year old manifestation of divine obedience. Let me tell you about this holy woman I have long admired from afar,Sr.Anne Montgomery
Anne was indefatigable in her rejection of nuclear weaponry and the money it was stealing from life-giving projects, She went to jail constantly ,a witness to justice and peace and nonviolent love.
Born into a military family in San Diego in 1926, she entered the convent in 1948.With two masters degrees, she taught in her order’s schools in NYC. She then worked with school drop outs in Harlem .One can see that Anne Montgomery from an early age was never prone to invent the human person. She had experieced life in the raw, poverty in the land of the rich and humans treated as non-entities. It was this experience that propelled her into full time peace and justice advocacy. She was driven to challenge the deeply ingrained myths of national security. It was the shocking waste of money and human resources in a military bloated economy which challenged her whole religious life. In the name of Jesus, she could not abide this nor the sentimental reliugiosity which defended it. She got to the “rootr” of the problem.In this sense she was :radical” (Radiz,Latin for root)
By 1980 she became a member of the Plowshares 8 .They were eight deeply Catholic citizens who had internalized the Jesus gospel of nonviolence. Two were priests, Dan Berrigan and Carl Kabat OMI. Dan’s brother Phil was also a member. On September 9, 1980 they entered the General Electric Nuclear Missile Re-entry Division in King of Prussia, PA where nose cones for the Mark 12A warheads were made. They hammered on two nose cones, and poured symbolic blood poured blood on documents and offered prayers for peace. They were arrested and initially charged with over ten different felony and misdemeanor counts. They were defended by ethical giants such as Former US Attorney General Ramsay Clark, Dr. Robert J. Lifton, Professors Richard Falk and Howard Zinn,Theur “crime” was defended in the context of the common plight of humanity.
It was in King of Prussia, Pa outside the court room that I first saw Anne Montgomery.It turns out she was just getting started.