The third Berrigan

They lowered the flag in Syracuse when Jerry Berrigan died.


Few outside the nuclear resistance committee knew Jerry Berrigan and his great wife Carol. Yet the “third Berrigan” and Carol were constant resisters to the militarization of the United States.Thanks to Ellen Grady-DeMott of the Ithaca Catholic Worker for the heads up


Jerry Berrigan, the eldest of the activist brothers Dan and Phil, died on July 26, 2015 at the age of 95, Berrigan served in the U.S. Army for three years during World War II. He later attended College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass, and studied to join the Josephites order which ministered to poor blacks in the US south. He left the seminary and earned his college degree at Le Moyne College in Syracuse.He retired in 2002 after 35 years of teaching English and writing composition at Onondaga Community College. He was active with Syracuse-area Catholic Worker activities, including jail ministry and Unity Acres, a men’s shelter.

Jerry came to the Hancock drone base on a bi-weekly basis whenever he was able. In Jerry’s words, “to remind the base commander of our government’s pledge under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, a treaty to safeguard non-combatant’s well-being in any warzone in which U.S. forces are engaged in combat.” And further, “to register horror and indignation at reports of bombing missions by drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan which resulted in the deaths of many innocent civilians; men, women and children.”

Throughout his life in the Syracuse area Berrigan participated in many protests against war, the death penalty, homelessness, civil rights and the School of Americas training program at the Fort Benning, Ga., Army base.

“I take the promise of non-violence seriously as any contributor to turning the world to a Christian way would,” he told the Syracuse Catholic Sun in 2010. “The lesson learned is the need to treat everyone lovingly and equally. Everyone deserves that by reason of their humanity, by reason of their being a child of God.

Berrigan is survived by Carol, his wife of 60 years; four children; five grandchildren; and his brother, Carla Berrigan, the youngest of his four children, said she remembers her uncles Dan and Phil visiting when she was young. “They would sit in the living room in a circle and would tell stories about their activism and their childhood,” she said. “Their laughter shook the house.”

He modeled “a sense of justice for everybody in the world,” she said. Retired Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Costello, who met Berrigan in the 1950s, called him a prophet and a peacemaker. “Each time he was arrested was a prophetic statement,” Costello said. “He challenged all of us. I think that was part of his ministry.”

Berrigan’s legacy is simple, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner Monday ordered the flag at City Hall lowered to half-mast in recognition of  Berrigan’s impact on the community.


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    mushafta Says:

    Hard to believe another Berrigan has gone. May God truly bless him.
    I used to head to the library and get caught up on the doings of the Berrigan brothers and totally resonated with the resoluteness of their stand against nuclear weapons and war. One weekend with Phil was a lifetime retreat. One of the holiest men I have ever encountered.

    These three men will go down in history as three profoundly prophetic voices and their rock solid resistance to war makes them true saints.

    We are looking down a nuclear barrel as well as an environmental one. The unleashed forces of American capitalism have brought us to the brink. The Republicans, Conservatives and the Liberals have failed to stand up to the enormous powers that wealth holds.

    Along comes a simple Argentine prelate not caught up with the high office of his robes that could wield much power and he confronts this evil empire. Deo Gratias!

    Long may the Berrigans reign ! And what a prophetic witness!

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