Fr. Dan Berrigan: ‘Peace I Leave With You’

26142144483_ed8ae3568d_oToday, on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, we celebrate the life of Daniel J. Berrigan, a Jesuit priest of “uncommon conscience,” as William Stringfellow called him. (See my earlier post.)

Heidi and I attended St. Stephens & the Incarnation Episcopal Church today to hear our friend and pastor Linda Kaufman preach. When we made plans to attend, we didn’t know it would be the day after losing Dan. It was the perfect celebration.

It’s in this church that the Holy Week Faith and Resistance retreats, led by Phil Berrigan, Liz McAlister, Art Laffin and others of the East Coast Catholic Worker and Jonah House communities, have been held for decades. Dan Berrigan spent a lot of nights sleeping on the floor in this church basement.

Linda’s sermon drew on the readings for the sixth Sunday of Easter–Revelation 21 and John 14. The political poetry in Revelation was an apt memorial for Dan: Here the wounded lamb is the center of the healing of the nations. And in John 14 Jesus says to his disillusioned and confused disciples: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

The mantle of the Berrigan brothers and the communities and families with them is laid down for us … to take up in community. We cannot be the peace of Christ alone.

A wake, public witness, funeral Mass and celebration of resurrection will be held in New York City on Thursday and Friday, May 5-6.

Wake and funeral arrangements for Father Dan Berrigan
Thursday, May 5:
2-5pm and 7-9pm, Wake
Church of St Francis Xavier
46 W 16th St, New York, NY
Friday, May 6:
7:30am, Peace Witness and March to Xavier (gathering location TBA)
Mass at 10am
Church of St Francis Xavier, 46 W 16th St, New York

Here are bits and pieces of more news about Dan Berrigan’s death (and in us and Christ, his resurrection):

Poet and Prophet: The peacemaking legacy of Daniel Berrigan, SJ (America)

The Life and Death of Dan Berrigan by John Dear

Father Daniel Berrigan, Anti-War Activist & Poet, Dies at 94 (Democracy Now!)

Daniel J. Berrigan, Defiant Priest Who Preached Pacifism, Dies at 94 (New York Times)

Daniel Berrigan, poet, peacemaker, dies at 94 (National Catholic Reporter)

Daniel Berrigan, Activist Jesuit Priest Who Opposed Vietnam War, Dies (NPR)

Born on Iron Range, peace activist and priest Daniel Berrigan dies Minneapolis Star Tribune

Jesuit priest, peace activist Daniel Berrigan dies at 94 (CBS News)


  1. A Saint among us has now gone home to God. We are forever grateful for the courageous and faithful witness of Dan, Phil and Jerry Berrigan. They were the epitome of the gospel on fire and and an inspiration to countless souls throughout the world. Their spirit, example and love will continue to light the way teaching us that love is always greater than hate; the way of peace always stronger than the evil of war. We will always carry you near and dear to our hearts. How great will your welcome be to the Lord you served so well and faithfully! Farewell Fr. Dan – Peace be with you.


  2. I was a progressive and still am. I met Dan and Phil during the days of the 1970’s and Paul Swift a Jesuit and I hitchhiked through Europe and spent the day in Rome at the Jesuit on Ignatius Loyola’s birthday. Dan was his spiritual advisor. Dan signed a petition to keep me out of jail after a federal subpoena in 1976 to name names. I spent 50 days in Allenwood. Bill and Marge Kunsler were friends and keep coming across Dan in my political activities


  3. Daniel Berrigan changed my life with one word. I was present at an address that he gave at the University of Dayton during the Gulf war. After his inspiring address, I went up to ask him how to deal with people who supported the war. He answered with one word, “compassion”. It was loving advice during turbulent times. It took me months of reflection to come to welcome compassion into my practice. I realized that I was in the presence of this humble loving man who lived his sacred life in the essence of peace, love and compassion. Thank you Daniel for sharing your life with so many. Love and peace to his family.


  4. On the day, in 1967, that the FBI picked me up for resisting the draft, I was placed in the West Street Detention Center, a decrepit, cacophonous and cruel warehouse, in which men were held, by the score, in steel cages. TVs were blaring; the man in the next bunk was going through withdrawal; people were yelling to each other from cell to cell; some were loudly playing dominoes; mice were scurrying up, down and overhead on the bars that confined us. It was alien, hostile, threatening and I felt very, very isolated. After just a few hours, I was surprisingly summoned from my cell to see a visitor. It was Dan Berrigan, whom I barely knew. Somehow, he had heard the news that this 19 yo had been arrested and he stopped whatever it was that he was doing. Now we faced each other across a sealed glass window and communicated by phone. He had come to see me, just to ask if I was OK and to let me know that I was not forgotten. That pastoral caring about others was so typical of Dan. He softened the horrible clang of those barred steel doors and rekindled the hope that was being questioned in the shock of my sudden arrest and imprisonment. He is still the kindest person I have ever met.


  5. I met Dan and Phil in the Baltimore County Jail. My father was the Warden. I was very fortunate to come, every Sunday to the Jail to Celebrate Mass. Masses in the basement of the Jail were the most Spiritual Christian/Catholic experiences of my life. Christ was at the head of the table, Peace and Love the focus, totally Amazing!
    I went to all of the demonstrations in Baltimore after that. My father ended up digging graves on the White House Lawn.

    At the 25th Anniversary of the
    Catonsville 9, I was impressed how peaceful demonstrations could have lead to so much jail time. The Sacrifice much Appreciated. GOD BLESS ALL!

    We were HONORED to have Dan and Phil at our house in Towson. Dan gave me his Peace Sign – right off his neck! I carry it with me as one of my most cherished possessions. The two others are my Father’s cross and Mother’s rosary.

    Thanks for your devotion to Christ, Mankind, and Peace! You are an amazing Priest.
    Blessed to have been in your presence


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