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Living Spiritual Teachers Project:

Daniel Berrigan
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


• Catholic priest, teacher, poet, and retreat leader

• Nonviolent peace and justice activist

• Member of a Jesuit community in New York City



Biography

Daniel Berrigan's life has been punctuated with bold acts of nonviolent social action. Born in 1921, he grew up in an Irish Catholic family in Minnesota and joined a Jesuit seminary right out of high school. After he was ordained a priest, he traveled in France where he was influenced by the worker-priest movement. He returned to the United States and began teaching in colleges, including Le Moyne College in Syracuse, Cornell, and Yale. He also wrote poetry which became a way to express his growing concerns about American war-making.

During the Vietnam War, Berrigan was one of nine activists who burned draft registration records in Catonsville, Maryland, for which he was tried and sentenced to three years in prison. He refused to surrender himself and went underground for several months living with supporters and surfacing periodically at anti-war rallies. He eventually was apprehended and spent eighteen months in prison before his release in 1972.

Daniel and his brother Philip then organized the Plowshares Movement to protest the production of nuclear and other weapons. Their first action was at a General Electric plant in Pennsylvania, a nonviolent protest in which they hammered on nose cones and offered prayers for peace. Over the years Berrigan has participated in many more demonstrations, including protesting the Gulf War, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and the Iraq war.

Daniel Berrigan lives in a Jesuit community in New York City and although past 80, he continues to conduct retreats, to speak publicly, and to write. He was authored more than 50 books of prose and poetry.

 

 
Read For:
• A fervent protest of war and the engines of destruction

• Stout-hearted Biblical commentaries

• Passionate advocacy of Gospel nonviolence

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