TRANSITIONS PERSONAL AND COMMUNAL, INTO THE PHIL BERRIGAN DMCW HOUSE, IN AN ADVENT SORT OF WAY
By Frank Cordaro
A big thank you goes out to all the folks who have shown me their love, understanding and support over the last few months. My leave from active priestly ministry has had its emotional ups and downs. Without my loving and supportive family and friends this transition would be much more difficult. In many ways I feel like a fish out of water. My biggest personal challenge is reinventing my self-identity beyond my being a priest.
I am moving into our recently acquired house at 713 Indiana, which we bought back about a year and a half ago.
We initially dedicated house to the Chiapas Project for a Hispanic focus and ministry. When that did not materialize, I entertained the thought of moving into the house myself. I brought up the idea to the community and received their approval for the new venture.
My idea is to start a resistance community within the larger DMCW community. This house will be financially independent of the other three DMCW houses. Residents of this new house will continue to be members of the on-site DMCW community, attending community meetings, taking shifts for hospitality and being part of the decision-making, responsibility-taking effort that keeps the DMCW going. They will have a more focused identity of peacemaking and nonviolent resistance to war.
The new household will be responsible for organizing the two annual DMCW resistance events in Omaha: the August 6-9 Vigil at Offutt AB and the Feast of the Holy Innocents Retreat and Line Crossing at Offutt AFB. We will also take the lead in the DMCW community for the local anti-war, anti-occupation campaigns of Iraq and Afghanistan.
We started to think about what name we might give our new house. The name Phil Berrigan kept coming to mind. I wrote to Phil’s widow, Liz McAllister of Jonah House, and asked if we might use Phil’s name for our new DMCW house. Liz graciously gave her approval.
After I decided to move, Fran and Mike Fuller and Claire Quiner announced they are moving out of the DMCW community this coming January. Losing these three good people will be a big blow to our community.
Fran and Mike Fuller have felt a strong urge to explore the rural, back-to-the-land vision of the Catholic Worker movement. They bought a house with some land just outside of Corning, Iowa, 100 miles SW of Des Moines. For the last three years Fran and Mile have been a very large part of the everyday life of our community. Among the many things that we will need to cover in their absence I the editorship of the Via Pacis , something Fran has done so well these last three years.
Claire Quiner has been with our community for about the same amount of time as Mike and Fran. She is also leaving us in January. Claire came to us her senior year in high school. She graduated a semester early and has divided her time between living with us at the DMCW, going to DMACC and being in Chiapas, Mexico living and working with Mayan Indians. Claire is moving to Milwaukee, WI, to attend Alverno College. Her stay with us has been wonderful and we wish her the best.
Replacing Fran, Mike and Claire will not be easy. Transitions rarely are. They often start as new beginnings and end up covering old territory. For example, I find myself moving back into the same house Joe DaVia and I lived in when we started the DMCW in August of 1976. I am doing now what I probably would have done 20 years ago had I not re-entered the seminary.
We do not know who God will send our way to replace Fran, Mike and Claire, nor can I tell you how our new house will fare. These are the issues of faith that come with being Catholic Workers. It has always been a risky venture, precarious, open ended, insecure. If you were ever thinking about joining A Catholic Worker community, now would be a good time to check us out. Timing is so important in these matters. It is a good place to be spiritually as we head into the season of waiting for the coming of the Lord.