"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
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
"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 email@example.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.