DePaul University (Chicago, USA) has established the Berrigan-McAlister Award, to be given annually to a person or organization whose active Christian nonviolence-—like that practiced by Fr. Daniel Berrigan, SJ, Philip Berrigan, and Elizabeth McAlister—resists injustice, transforms conflict, fosters reconciliation, and seeks justice and peace for all.
The first Berrigan-McAlister Award will be presented on May 5, 2021 to the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, a group of Catholic activists who engaged in symbolic disarmament of nuclear weapons at the largest nuclear submarine base in the world. The award ceremony will be followed by a moderated conversation with members of the group.
This inaugural Berrigan-McAlister Award will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dan Berrigan, who was born on May 9, 1921.
As part of this celebration, a new film on the Berrigans entitled “Devout and Dangerous” will be screened on May 4, 2021. Susan Hagedorn, the film’s director, and members of the Berrigan-McAlister family will join in this event.
All are welcome to join the virtual events but pre-registration is requested.
The Berrigan-McAlister awardees include the following members of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7: Elizabeth McAlister (Jonah House, Baltimore, MD); Fr. Steve Kelly SJ (Bay Area, CA); Carmen Trotta (New York Catholic Worker, New York, NY); Clare Grady (Ithaca, Catholic Worker, Ithaca, NY); Martha Hennessy (New York Catholic Worker, New York, NY); Mark Colville (Amistad Catholic Worker, New Haven, CT); and Patrick O’Neill (Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker, Garner, NC).
On April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., these seven advocates for peace and justice entered Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia without authorization in order to draw attention to the global dangers of its Trident submarine fleet and to connect the nuclear threat to what Dr. King called the triple evils of “militarism, racism and consumerism.” As part of this witness, they hung banners in three areas of the facility reading: “The ultimate logic of racism is genocide,” Dr. Martin Luther King; “The ultimate logic of Trident is omnicide”; and “Nuclear weapons: illegal—immoral.”
“The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 has kept alive the spirit of resistance to mass murder, and have drawn attention to the evil of nuclear weapons in a world grown accustomed to them,” said Michael L. Budde, DePaul professor of Catholic Studies and Political Science. “They are fitting recipients of DePaul’s first Berrigan-McAlister award as they continue the Plowshares disarmament movement begun by Daniel and Philip Berrigan in 1980, conducting nonviolent action to plea for peace and justice based on the biblical concept of ‘beating swords into plowshares’ (Isaiah 2:4).
As Pope Francis said in 2019 about the immoral possession of nuclear weapons, “If we really want to build a more just and secure society, we must let the weapons fall from our hands,” and “Future generations will rise to condemn our failure if we spoke of peace but did not act to bring it about among the peoples of the earth.”