2003

2003 Feb v.p. “In Memory of 4 Peacemakers: Fr Dick McSorely, Kassie Temple, Ladon Sheats and Fr. Mike Colonese” p. 6

2003 Feb v.p. “In Memory of 4 Peacemakers: Fr Dick McSorely, Kassie Temple,  Ladon Sheats and  Fr. Mike Colonese”  p. 6

 

IN MEMORY OF FOUR PEACEMAKERS

By Frank Cordaro

 

Fr. Dick McSorely, S.J.  Presente!

Fr. Dick McSorely, a Jesuit priest from Georgetown University, died in October 2002, in Washington, D.C.  He was 88 years old.  If one Jesuit could redeem a Jesuit Institution like Georgetown University from its nationalist violent sins, it would be Dick McSorely.  Dick entered the Jesuits in 1932.  He was in the Philippines doing mission work before WWII when the Japanese took over the Philippines.  Dick spent three years as a prisoner of war and suffered starvation and sickness during that time.

After the war, Dick returned to the states, was ordained a priest in 1946 and was assigned to a parish in Maryland.  Dick soon became involved with the issues of segregation and civil rights.  He went to Georgetown University in 1961, embraced nonviolence and taught peace studies.  He has been at Georgetown ever since.

Fr. Dick marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.  He was an early anti-Vietnam War protester and was arrested numerous times.  One of the founders of Pax Christi USA, Fr. Dick was a great friend to Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement.  He helped start several DC Catholic Worker communities, including the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.

In the mid-1970s, Fr Mc Sorely wrote an article entitled, ‘It’s a Sin to Build a Nuclear Weapon” in which he wrote:  “Can you imagine Jesus pushing the button that would release nuclear weapons on millions of people?  What it is wrong to do, it is wrong to intend to do.  If it is wrong for me to kill you, it is wrong for me to plan to kill you.  The tap root of violence in our society is our intent to use nuclear weapons.  Once we have agreed to that, all other evil is minor in comparison.  Until we squarely face the question of our consent to use nuclear weapons, any hope for improvement of public morality is doomed to failure.”

One of the first prison support letters I received in August of 1977, after doing a blood spilling at the Pentagon, was from Fr. Dick and I did not even know who he was at that time.  The last time I heard from him was this past year while in jail.  He wrote to support me yet again.

Active and engaged right to the last, Fr. Dick was quoted in our last issue of the Via Pacis: “(In) answer to your question ‘can a person be a good American according to the government view as well as a good Catholic?’ I know the answer is “no”.  A good American believes in killing; a good Catholic doesn’t.”

Fr. Dick McSorely, may your soul rest in peace!

His autobiographic book My Path to Peace and Justice, is available through the Catholic Worker Book Store at 1-800-43-PEACE or www.catholicworker.com/bookstore

 

 

Kassie Temple  Presente!

Kassie Temple, a member of the New York Catholic Worker community for close to 30 years, died of cancer in November of 2002.  She was one of the people I first remember meeting at the NY CWer in the 1970s.  After receiving her Ph.D in the early 1970s, Kassie, a Canadian citizen, turned her back on a career in academia and chose, instead, a life of poverty and service in the Catholic Worker movement.

From the beginning, I appreciated Kassie’s academic background because of her knowledge of the French radical theologian, Jacques Ellul.  I remember talking to Kassie and reading some of her articles about Ellul’s theology and its connection with the CW.  However, her real love was for the Scriptures.  Being with Kassie in a scripture study was like being at the feet of a beloved, learned rabbi.  One could tell that she not only knew the Word of God, she deeply loved it.

The last time I saw Kassie was at the 15th Anniversary of the Saints Francis and Therese Catholic Worker in Worcester, MA.  Kassie was leading a workshop on the Scriptures.  Someone asked her if she believed in hell.  “Yes I do”, she said,”I’m just not sure anyone is there”.

Kassie Temple, may your soul rest in peace.

 

Ladon Sheats  Presente!

A former 1960s top executive of IBM turned nonviolent resister to war, Ladon died from cancer on August 7, 2002, in Santa Maria, CA, at the age of 68.  He was in the loving care of close friends and Catholic Workers.  A former member of Jonah House, Ladon became well known in Catholic Worker resistance circles for his consistent nonviolent resistance to war, his simple lifestyle, his love and service to the poor, his strong spiritual base and his clarity of thought.

I first met Ladon Sheats in August of 1977.  We were arrested together at the Pentagon on August 9th.  After ten days in a DC jail, we were dragged before a federal magistrate judge in Alexandria, VA, for trial.  Until that point, the federal judges were giving people time served for similar Pentagon protests.  Friends from Des Moines had made the trip to DC for my trial and I expected to go home with them.  So, when I received a 30-day sentence from the judge that day, I returned to the holding cell in a state of near shock.

It was Landon who listened to me express my disappointment.  He comforted me in my grief and challenged me to look beyond the 20-day sentence and start asking myself if I had what it took to be doing this resistance work five, ten or fifteen years from now.  Because, Ladon told me, this struggle demanded a life-long commitment.

Through the years, Ladon lived his “talk” in a most generous and gentle way.  In the process, he inspired many of us Catholic Workers for many years.  I last saw Ladon in Omaha, NE, at our May 29th Labor Day Demo at Offutt Air Force Base.  Ladon crossed the line and he, along with Sam Day and others, received a ban and bar letter that day.

Ladon Sheats may your soul rest in peace.

 

Fr. Mike Colonese  Presente!

Fr. Mike was a Catholic priest from the Diocese of Davenport, IA.  In the 1970s, Fr. Mike was the first head of the U.S. Bishops’ Latin American Office in Washington, DC.  He became a strong supporter of liberation theologians which got him into trouble with the Nixon administration and resulted in his being removed from his office.  Disillusioned with Church structures and leadership, Fr. Mike moved to Mexico and started working with progressive labor and radical grass roots social justice groups.  He eventually moved to El Salvador and joined the armed revolutionaries as a priest-chaplain.  Mike soon became disillusioned with the politics of violence and returned to the states in the early 1980s.  That is when we, at the Des Moines Catholic Worker, got to know Fr. Mike personally.  He was a speaker in much demand, since he spoke first-hand about what was really happening in Latin America…

By the end of the 1980s, Fr. Mike had returned to El Salvador and started the Hogar Juvenil Divino Salvador orphanage and school for orphans of the war in Sonsonate, El Salvador.  I visited Fr. Mike and his orphanage a couple times.  At the time, I assured Fr. Mike he was doing some of the most important work of his priestly life.

Fr. Mike died in Florida as a result of Diabetes. May his soul rest in peace.

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