Fwd: Road Trip Report: Oct 2022 National CW Gathering Mustard Seed CW 50th Aniv, Worcester MA

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Catholic Worker

Jan 16, 2023, 11:27:10 AM1/16/23
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---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Frank Cordaro <frank....@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Jan 15, 2023 at 6:59 PM
Subject: Road Trip Report: Oct 2022 National CW Gathering Mustard Seed CW 50th Aniv, Worcester MA
To: Catholic Worker <catholicw...@gmail.com>

by Des Moines CW Frank Cordaro

(Was hoping to get this published in a via pacis in Dec. We did not
get that issue out. Like to pass it on now through our CW listserv.)

    I've just returned from the National CW Gathering celebrating the
Mustard Seed CW's  50th Aniv, Worcester MA. And for an old guy like
me, I got to see people I have not seen in years. Faith mentors who
have had a major influence on me and who I have become.

   The most significant being Liz McAlister, wife of Phil Berrigan and
mentor to several generations of peacemakers, whom I actually saw
before the CW gathering.

   My first night out of DM I spent with my brother Tom, just outside
of Chicago. My brother Joe graciously drove me. We met up with Mike
Miles, Barb Kass and Al Zook from Anathoth CW Farm in Luck WI. My ride
to the East Coast. It was a great little reunion. Tom and Barb knew
each other at Iowa State.

    The next day, Mike, Barb, Al and I headed to New London Ct. to
visit Liz McAlister. I first met Mike, Barb and Al from my Jonah House
connections in the 1980's.  We spent two nights hosted by Frida and
Kate, Liz's two daughters with great hospitality. We got to visit Liz
each day. Liz is living in a memory unit in a local nursing home. A
beautiful place right along the river used to sail finished Trident
Submarines to sea from the local Navy Submarine base and GE Submarine
plant just up the river. The Sub Base and GE Plant, the site for many
protests over the years.

   It's never easy to see a loved one, especially a mentor like Liz,
so diminished in her physical and mental capacities. Still Liz has not
lost her good and welcoming spirit. She's getting the best of care.
Her daughters' make sure of that.

   My best moment for the whole trip was with Liz, when we prayed,
together outdoors the readings of the day with personal reflections.
When Liz spoke she was clear and insightful, seemingly talking to a
different crowd, from one thought to the next. All of it is good!  It
brought to mind the morning community prayer time at Jonah House. I
remember once telling Bishop Dingman the most impressive thing I found
at Jonah House was the community's daily reading of scriptures and

    After our visit with Liz we headed for Worcester MA and the
National CW Gathering. As soon as we hit the parking lot of Blessed
Sacrament Parish I started connecting with CWers I had not seen for
years. One of the first being Phil Runkle, our beloved, retired CW
Archivist from Marquette University in Milwaukee.  We shared about our
mothers who became friends meeting at Sugar Creek! Also connected with
Vince Eirene from the Pittsburgh CW. Last year I celebrated Vince’s’
70th B-day with his friends in Pittsburgh. He’s still kicking, got a
house and offering hospitality.

    We spent the first night at Blessed Sacrament with a banquet meal,
night program and OPEN BAR!!!  During the opening prayer lead by
Michael Boover, one of the founders of Mustard Seed, people were asked
to remember DMCW Norman Searah. I had told Michael of Norman's
condition earlier. Michael told the crowd that Norman was one of
Mustard Seed's early dishwashers 50 years ago

   Everywhere I turned that first night there was someone I knew
personally and reconnected. When the program started I sat down at a
table with Steve Jacobs, Columbia Mo CW. I turned to my left and there
was John Schuchardt.  John got arrested with Steve and me at the
Pentagon Aug 9, 1977. My first arrest. I also reconnected with Claire
Lewandowski and Ma Wilson – recent DMCW volunteers who stayed a month
with us. The whole night was like that.

   Saturday was filled with plenary sessions and workshops. No way can
I share all that happened. My only regret is that I could not attend
all of the workshops. There were only two Workshop Sessions scheduled.
Which meant you can only attend two. And I gave one.

   I attended the "CW and the Catholic Ch '' workshop led by Rosalie
Riegle and Amanda Daloisio. There were about 30 people attending the
workshop and we had only enough time for everyone in the circle to say
something. And just like the CW movement and the larger US Catholic
Church, every point of view was represented.

   I was the 2nd to the last to share. I gave a brief overview of the
DMCW'er evolving history with our local Bishops, Diocese and larger
Church. And that we are now an Ecumenical, Interfaith,
Non-denominational, Anarchist CW. And we are currently seeking ways to
lift an official "No Catholic Mass" Order from our Bp & Priest Council
from having Mass on our property because we had a woman celebrate Mass
at our 40th Aniv. Go figure?

    My workshop was titled “Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya’s
Witness against the Dakota Access Pipeline” In it, I tried to place
Jess and Ruby’s Witness in the context of the CW & Plowshares
movements by telling the story of how Jess and Ruby came to do their
actions as members of the DMCW.I gave an overview of their five year
saga between witness and prison. I covered directly the betrayal
between Jess and Ruby plus the need to address the domestic terrorism
enhancements in their sentencing.

 First off, the betrayal is real. Ruby cooperated with the feds and
also made up lies about Jess, the DMCWer’s and many other real and
unreal people. That is the problem with Ruby’s defense and
cooperation. It did her no good. She got the same sentence if she had
not cooperated & participated in the "rat system" with the Feds.

   Ruby is clearly a victim of the Federal Prosecutors and Judges and
a criminal legal system that is rotten to the core. Betrayal is built
into the system.  You can’t get guilty pleas from 95 % of the criminal
cases in the Fed system without a lot of “Rats!”

   Talking to Jess on the phone regarding Ruby’s betrayal, I told her
“You know how I live for a good line and your no Jesus, but what Ruby
did to you is a real betrayal” I also told Jess she was going to need
to forgive Ruby sooner or later. I told her she did not have to do it
right away, “Take a month, take a year, take a couple years … sooner
or later you will need to forgive Ruby.”

  At the workshop I called for CWers to embrace Jess and Ruby’s case
in two ways:

  1. As  CWers we should help bring about reconciliation between Jess
and Ruby. Healing for Ruby. Strength for both of them to survive. No!
For more, for them to thrive in imprisonment and we be welcoming
communities when they are set free

  At the moment I have no idea how this is going to happen.  Reasons
why we need to pray. We will need some time.  We will need to seek
ways to reach out to Ruby and Jess and help set the stage for
reconciliation. I call on any and all CWer who can, reach out to Jess
and Ruby and help start the process.

  2. Join the larger campaign to get the Domestic Terrorism
Enhancements dropped from their Fed records.

   The best way to give a taste & measure of the CWers in attendance
is to name the workshops I wished I could have attended with their

 “How the Peacemaking Witness of Dorothy Day and the Berrigans’ Impact
our Faith Response to the Omnipresent Nuclear Peril and War Today”
with Martha Hennessy, Art Laffin and Chris Spicer.

“What Could Trigger Nuclear War with Russia and China?” with Bruce
Gagnon from the Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power.

“The CW Movement in Europe.” with Frits ter Kuile from the Jennet Noel
Huis Amsterdam

“Nonviolence and the CW” with Fr Joe Mattern, Casa Esther CW in Omro, WI.

“Sacramental Agriculture: Finding Our Way in the Circle of Life: with
Mike Miles and Barb Kass, Anathoth CW Farm. Luck WI.

“Where, Then, Shall We Go!?: Hospitality, Human Rights, and Resisting
the Criminalization of the Homeless” with Mark Colville, Amistad CW

“Cult, Culture and Cultivation” with Mike Boover, Worcester CW

“Campaigning Toward Decolonization: Trying to Be a Faithful and
Strategic CW in the Struggle for Indigenous Justice” with Matt Harper,

Covid 19: A conversation among friends” with Clare Grady, Fr Charles
Emmanuel McCarthy and John Schchardt

There was even a CW Young People’s Caucus for people under 40!

    During the day there was a Film Grew interviewing people who know
Tom Lewis, an artist and Draft Board Files’ activists who joined Holy
Cross grad Phil Berrigan for the Baltimore 4 and the Catonsville 9
Draft Board Raids!  When I visited him a few years ago, he was living
in a house right across the street from the Mustard Seed CW. His house
was filled with his paintings, old posters and painter’s tools. And I
got to share with the Film Crew about the afternoon I spent with Tom
in his house, talking about how he did his artwork and how he gave me
one of the drawings he made for a book Fr Dan Berrigan wrote on
Ezekiel. The painting is hanging in the dining room of Bp Dingman CW
House in DM (see photo)

   Saturday night was the Talent Show and Dance.  Former DMCWers, now
big time NYC CWers Carmen Trotta did his Elvis impersonation and
JoAnne Kennedy sang with Clare and Ellen Grady, Frida Berrigan and
others. (JoAnn told me Carla Dawson had to stay in NYC to cover the
houses.) And our own Austin Cook sang with a group.

  The dance brought at least ½ the crowd to the floor, old and young
alike! These folks know how to throw a party!

Sunday morning we had breakfast at Mustard Seed. We had to leave
before the final closing Mass. It was like leaving the Wedding banquet
right at the beginning. We also missed getting in the group photo.
(see photo)

On the way home Austin and I gave Chris Clarke, a self-described
roaming CW and a delightful singer, a ride to Dayton OH and the Little
Bear Creek Community. It is a small community just outside the city
limits, raising and marketing vegs & fruits from their own Highway
Store and running a shipping and marketing wholesale business for a
collective of small and big Amish/Brethren farm communes in the
Midwest. It was such a delightful visit, we stayed an extra day in

Frank Cordaro
cell 515 490 2490

 “Following Jesus in a Pro Rich, Pro War, Pro US Empire” FC – Nov 7,
2022, DMACC, Ankeny

1976-2022 via pacis archives
F Cordaro's Writings and Archives by yr 1976 - 2022
FC's FB page
Visting Liz.jpg
Tom Lewis print.jpg
Catholic Workers in front of Blessed Sacrament.jpg
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