Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Sr. Anne Montgomery, Plowshares leader against nuclear weapons, dies"

"Sr. Anne Montgomery, Plowshares leader against nuclear weapons, dies"

by Dennis Sadowski, CNS - Aug 29, 2012 NCR

WASHINGTON -- Nuclear weapons posed such a grave danger to all life on
earth in the eyes of Sacred Heart Sr. Anne Montgomery that she devoted
more than 30 years of years of her life to protest their stockpiling
by the world's governments.

From participating in the first of the so-called Plowshares actions
Sept. 9, 1980, until her sixth and last protest Nov. 1, 2009 -- for
which she served two months in federal prison --Montgomery epitomized
the "heart and soul" of a movement that has spanned the globe, several
friends and fellow activists for peace said.

Montgomery died of cancer Aug. 27 at Oakwood, the Society of the
Sacred Heart's elder care center in Atherton, Calif. She was 85.

"Thomas Merton said it best that the highest obligation of Christian

discipleship is the abolition of nuclear war taking the precedence

over everything else. And she understood that," said John Schuchardt,

who joined Montgomery as one of the Plowshares 8 in 1980 at the former

General Electric nuclear weapons plant in King of Prussia, Pa., where

they hammered on nuclear missile casings.

"I'll never forget Anne reading from the Book of Wisdom and the

gentleness and the spirit of wisdom she read," Schuchardt said.

Oblate Fr. Carl Kabat, another Plowshares 8 participant, told Catholic

News Service that Montgomery held firm to her beliefs about the danger

of nuclear war and was prepared to face the consequences of her

actions, even if it meant she was to be imprisoned.

"She was very strong," he said. "She was a very good person, very

wonderful, (who was) motivated by faith."

In addition to Montgomery, Kabat and Schuchardt, the Plowshares 8

included Molly Rush; Jesuit Fr. Daniel Berrigan; his brother, Philip,

a former Josephite priest; Elmer Maas; and Dean Hammer. The protest

was the first of more than 75 in which participants around the world

shared a desire to bring to life the biblical call to "beat swords

into plowshares."

Montgomery's last Plowshares action -- the Disarm Now Plowshares --

took place on All Saints' Day in 2009 at the U.S. Navy's Strategic

Weapons Facility, Pacific in Bangor, Wash., where more than 2,300

nuclear warheads are believed to be stored.

After being indicted at age 83 in September 2010 for the All Saints'

Day protest, Montgomery told CNS she felt called to continue

protesting nuclear weapons and would do so in one way or another until

her last days.

"I have been involved since 1980 in Plowshares movements, which are

really saying we as human beings, as Christians, as citizens of a

country which is supposed to be governed by its citizens, we are

responsible to eliminate these weapons," she said.

Jesuit Fr. Bill Bichsel joined the protest with Montgomery and said

she was filled with courage in trying to make the world a better place

for everyone, especially people living on the margins.

"The constancy of what she was about was impressive," he told CNS. "It

was not just about abolishing weapons. It was about trying to bring

about a world that is compassionate."

Art Laffin, who was arrested with Montgomery in Plowshares actions

twice, told NCR she offered "a great deal of courage and hope" to the

U.S. church.

"She knew about the cross and what the cross meant. She lived in the

hope of the resurrection. Hers was a living faith in the gospel of

Jesus," he said.

Laffin said the sister will be remembered for her peace witness, for

serving the poor and for going fearlessly into war zones to be with

people under occupation.

"She was a doer of the Word," he said.

Montgomery was born Nov. 30, 1926, in San Diego to Rear Adm. Alfred E.

and Alice Smith Montgomery. Her brother, Brook, preceded her in death.

The family moved several times during Montgomery's childhood before

settling in Pennsylvania. She joined the Society of the Sacred Heart

in Albany, N.Y., in 1948, professing final vows in 1956.

She taught at several Sacred Heart-run schools, including those in New

York City and Albany, where she experienced the challenges faced by

poor and minority people. In 1975, Montgomery completed training to

work with children with learning disabilities and returned to New York

to work with school dropouts in East Harlem.

The work led her to the Catholic Worker in New York and to the Little

Sisters of the Assumption. By 1980, she moved into full-time ministry

as a peace advocate, becoming known among faith-based activists on

both the East and West coasts.

Montgomery later became involved with the Christian Peacemaker Teams,

a nonviolent, ecumenical anti-war organization, serving as a witness

for peace in Iraq, the Balkans and the West Bank.

One week before her death, Montgomery received the 2012 Courage of

Conscience Award from the Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Mass., for her

lifetime commitment to peacemaking.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

[Patrick O'Neill contributed to this story.]

-- Dear Friends,

Even as we feel the loss of a dear friend and colleague in the struggle for a nonviolent world, we also celebrate our memories of Anne Montgomery's life and how she touched each of us.

People will have the opportunity to mourn and celebrate together at Oakwood in Atherton, California, where Anne spent her recent days in community with her Sisters of the Order of the Sacred Heart, local Catholic Workers, and many others.

Here are the details of Anne's funeral:

Funeral Service at 10:00 am Saturday, September 15th in the Oakwood Chapel, 140 Valparaiso Ave., Atherton CA 94027

Bill Bichsel, SJ and Steve Kelly, SJ will concelebrate.

Followed by burial in the Oakwood cemetery (same property as the chapel), Sharing of memories, and Lunch

For people planning to fly in, Oakwood is approximately midway between the San Francisco International and San Jose International Airports.

Oakwood is located one mile from the Menlo Park Caltrain Depot (click here for directions). It is also just a few blocks Southwest of El Camino Real, which is well served by SamTrans bus service.

If you are not able to attend, and would like to share a personal reflection about Anne, send it to me at, and I will share it with her community at Oakwood.

If you plan to attend and need special assistance, you may contact Sr.

Clare at

We will continue to post pertinent reflections at Disarm Now Plowshares. We will also post the information in this email and any updates, up to the day of the funeral, at the Disarm Now Plowshares "Events" page.


Leonard Eiger

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