1993 Aug 22 – 21st Sun Ord (Bulletin Letters)
Report from Western Sojourn
My trip out West could not have gone any better. I spent ten days with the Los Angeles Catholic Worker community, as part of their Summer Internship Program. The L.A. C.W.er is one of the premier C.W.er communities in the country. They have a large Hospitality House and run a Soup Kitchen and Medical Clinic in the skid-row district. They also put out, eight times a year, the Catholic Agitator, the community’s news paper.
I was joined in this effort by Norman Searah, my good friend and fellow Des Moines C.W.er. Norman and I participated fully in the community’s daily life. I gave several talks and celebrated the Eucharist with the community.
The Soup Kitchen is unique. Called the “Hippie” Soup Kitchen by the men and women on the streets, it was destroyed by an earth quack four years ago. The community raise over $350,000 to rebuild. The end result was a much improved building facility and a plush green environment to serve their meals.
L.A. has less than five days of rain a year. The Soup Kitchen’s meals are served out doors in an enclosed area. The people sit on fixed wooden tables. They are surrounded by a thriving Southern Calif. garden, complete with fish laden water fountains, green trees, multiple colored flowers and caged singing birds. Its a virtual paradise for the men and women who come to eat.
The community serves a meal to between 500 to 1000 people three times a week. The Soup Kitchen’s lush green environment helps to set a calming peaceful spirit through out the meals. It truly is a remarkable place.
My visit could not have been more personally satisfying. It was refreshing and invigorating to be immersed into a thriving Catholic Worker community. One that is clearly focused and well grounded in the C.W.er philosophy and way of life. The L.A. C.W. community is an intense and highly motivated group of people with a full schedule of work, study, prayer and play.
I really appreciated the quality time I spent with Jeff Dietrich, who with his wife, Catherine Morris has been with the community for almost the entire 22 years of its existence. There was also the added treat of being reunited with Carmon Trotta, a former Des Moines Catholic Worker who is in his six year at the New York Catholic Worker. Carmon was in L.A. to spend the last month with the Summer Program.
Witness At The Nevada Nuclear Test Site
The weekend of Aug. 6th to 9th the bulk of the L.A. C.W.er community loaded up in a van and two cars and drove the five hour trip to Los Vegas Nevada’s. We wanted to be on hand for the 9th Annual Desert Witness at the U.S. Nuclear Test Site. The test site is located about 65 miles north west of Los Vegas. This site is where the U.S. military has been testing nuclear bombs since the end of WWII. Up until the early 1960’s, these test were conducted above ground. Since than they have been testing nuclear bombs below the ground.
While in Los Vegas we stayed with the L. V. Catholic Worker community. We joined other nuclear protesters from all over the country at St. James Cath. Ch. in Los Vegas for a weekend long program. The weekend was organized by the Nevada Desert Experience, a ten year old peace group in Los Vegas who have been organizing nationally and internationally against Nuclear Bomb testing.
On Sunday morning Aug. 8th, seventy people made the hr. long trip out to the entrance of the Nuclear Test Site. We celebrated a Mass. Fr. Dan Berrigan S.J. presided. I got to fulfil a long time dream and concelabrate with Fr. Berrigan.
After the Mass, we all gathered on the main road leading into the Test Site. While blocking one lane of the two lane road leading into the Site, 56 people crossed over the property line. All were arrested by the local Co. Sheriffs deputes and placed in holding pins just off the side of the road, permanent set up for such occasions.
Over the last ten years, tens of thousands of people have “crossed the line” at the Nuclear Test Site in NV. The arrest is very symbolic. The County stopped prosecuting simple “line crossers” in 1986. (Not so at Offutt…. )
We were soon processed, one by one in the back seats of four police cars. No photos or finger prints were taken. We were all given a simple citation. Nothing is ever done in follow by the County. The whole line crossing, arrest and release last just over an hr.
Most of us took our citations home with us as a reminders of the witness. They fit well, along side the Official Shoshone Indian Travel Permits we all received. The Western Shoshone Indian Tribe have claim on the lands the Test Site occupies. The organizers of the weekend arraigned for all the participants to be issued these permits giving us permission to be out at the Site rightful owners.
93 08 22
The Prairie Lakes Life Communities (PALLC) Gathering in Des Moines
Next weekend I will be in Des Moines helping to host a gathering of the PALLC. They are a Midwest network of nonviolent nuclear resistance communities. We meet twice a year. The last time we meet in Jan. in Madison Wi. about 30 people showed up. This was not your ordinary gathering of peace activist. Close to 30 years of jail time had been served collectively by the whole group for non violent protesting of nuclear weapons. Some of us will bring up the idea of a Spring witness at Offutt AFB. I am seriously considering joining in this effort. More on this latter….