1987 Feb 15 – 6th Sun Ord Time (Bulletin Letters)

1987 Feb 15 – 6th Sun Ord Time (Bulletin Letters)

The Pittsburgh Press – Sunday Feb. 8, 1987

Logan IA (UPI)

A Catholic priest extended “sanctuary” to a manure spreader and kept it safe yesterday from federal officials trying to repossess the machinery of a farm couple.

Workers hired by the Federal deposit Insurance Corp, hauled away machinery from the farm of Robert and Therese Sullivan Friday in a repossession action.

The FDIC did not get everything however. The Rev Frank Cordaro, a farm advocate and peace activist haul a manure spreader to St Anne’s Catholic Church in Logan where he said it will be temporarily safe from the bankers’ grasp.

The Sullivans have been fighting legal battles for four years, including a bankruptcy declaration to try to save at least part of their, 1,500 acre farm. They continue to live on the farm although Friday’s action leaves them without the equipment to feed 40 head of cattle.

“The manure spreader is hanging loose in my yard,” Cordaro said yesterday. “I took it because it was the easiest to move. I think I might be the only one in the church’s 2,000-year history to offer sanctuary to a manure spreader.”

Cordaro said the move was funny but he also wanted to make a point. “Sometimes you have to have a sense of humor to break through had reality.” He said.

Cordaro said the government “doesn’t pay any attention” to the principle of sanctuary so he expects agent will try to seize the spreader.



February 13, 1987


Dear Friends

A R ICH SYMBOL: It looks like the FDIC is not interested in retrieving the Sullivan’s manure spreader.  Bob was sure it was on the FDIC list to go.  I guess the government feels it’s best to keep its distance.  They must know that the closer they get to the manure spreader, the more it will smell.  Winning back a manure spreader will not bring back the Sullivan’s loses or heal their shattered dreams.  Yet it is a symbol of our times – of farm families being pushed off their land and a Church willing to stand with them.  I asked Bob if we could keep the manure spreader a little longer as a sign of our commitment to supporting farmers in trouble.  As you can see from the Pittsburgh Press article of February 8, news of the affair has spread across the country.  As Rev. Bob Evans of the Christian Church said, “He (Fr. Frank) knows his message and how to spread it.”


There are moments in any struggle when the people can be heard.  Such a moment will happen Monday, February 23, in Harlan, Iowa, at a Sheriff Sale at the courthouse.  Dominic and Ida Faye Lickteig of Defiance are losing their home and farm.  The Lickteig’s, like so many others, are victims of the rural crisis.  They tried to put their son into farming by expanding during the inflationary years of the 70’s.  Now, the Lickteig’s are about to lose everything.  They came to me and asked for help.  They do not want to lose their home and farm without a fight.  Wednesday, the Lickteigs, Fr. Larry Beeson, their former pastor in Defiance, Carroll Nearmyer, a farmer and member of the American Agriculture Movement and I met with Sheriff Gene Cavanaugh to talk about our planned demonstration.  We asked the Sheriff what it would take to stop the sale in a nonviolent and nonthreatening manner.

This is what we came up with…at the time of the sale we will need at least 200 people.  When the sheriff comes out of the courthouse to begin the sale, he will be greeted with 15 to 20 predetermined people.  In a very civil and nonthreatening manner each will present himself or herself as an obstacle to the sheriff who will in turn arrest them.  The sheriff will then have a maximum number of people in his custody that he could reasonable secure.  Then the sheriff will attempt to proceed with the sale.  At this point, the crowd will make enough noise so that the sheriff is unable to be heard.  People are urged to bring with them noise makers such as pots, pans, bells, whistles and good strong voices.  At a certain point the sheriff will call off the sale.  All of the above will be done in a peaceful, nonviolent and respectful manner.

I am making a special plea to all of you.  If there is one effort, one demonstration, one protest where your presence will make a difference, this may be the one.  Please join us on the steps of the Harlan courthouse.  A time to be heard – a moment in the struggle.


Fr. Frank


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