Focusing on the theme: LET ALL THE WORLD’S CHILDREN LIVE–REMEMBER THE MASSACRED CHILDREN AND CREATE THE BELOVED COMMUNITY IN A DISARMED WORLD, over 50 people from the Atlantic and Southern Life Communities,and the New Jerusalem Community in Philadelphia, gathered in Washington, D.C. from December 27-29 for the annual Holy Innocents Faith and Resistance retreat.
On December 27th early evening, Rosemary Thompson, director of the Murphy Initiative for Peace and Justice, offered a moving reflection on the retreat theme which ended with a powerful Litany (see below). This was followed by an action planning session and evening prayer.
On December 28, the feast of the Massacre of the Holy Innocents, the community gathered at the Pentagon to remember the massacred–past and present–and to offer Resolutions for the New Year. Click here for flyer
During a procession from Army-Navy Drive to the Pentagon, the community stopped twice to offer the litany remembering all children who are victims of violence and war today. Most of the community then proceeded to the so-called designated protest zone near the Pentagon metro entrance while six who were risking arrest remained on the Pentagon sidewalk. As five did a symbolic “die-in” representing massacred victims, Patrick O’Neill read the Litany of Victims. As the six were being arrested by Pentagon police, everyone sang the “Vine and Fig Tree” song. The six were taken to the new Pentagon police center, (what used to be the Pentagon Daycare Center), where they were processed and then released. They were charged with “Failure To Obey a Lawful Order” (sic) and given a April 5 court date at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA.
Following the arrests, retreatants offered an explanation of who we are and why we were at the Pentagon on this day. The scripture account of the Holy Innocents was read, and different members from our respective communities offered compelling testimonies about who the Holy Innocents are today that are being massacred–from Newtown, to the streets of Philadelphia, to the Gaza victims of Israeli bombings, to the victims of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan an elsewhere, to the victims of U.S. warmaking in Afghanistan and Iraq. We then offered our Resolutions for the New Year. The witness concluded with an invitation to the police to join us in singing the Coventry Carol.
Later in the afternoon the Rider-O’Neill family offered a powerful presentation on Nonviolence and Resistance. The evening program
focused on the Transform Now Plowshares action as Sr. Megan Rice and Mike Walli (two of the three actors of the group–Greg Boertje-Obed is the third), shared about their July 28 hope-filled plowshares witness which resulted in the empire’s premier nuclear bomb complex in Oak Ridge, TN being closed for over two weeks. Paul Magno also shared about the significance of this action and that the three face a maximum prison sentence of 35 years. Paul concluded with a prayerful reflection of Psalm 114. For more info about the Transform Now Plowshares action and trial now scheduled for May 7 in Knoxville, TN see: transformnowplowshares.wordpress.com.
The retreat concluded on December 29th morning with a spirit-filled community liturgy and send off for people returning home due to bad weather.
Mindful that Jesus, Emmanuel, is with us during this Holy Season and always, let us pray for each other, and for the grace and strengththat we each need to stay sustained as we begin a new year.
Patrick O’Neill, Fr. Charles Mulholland Catholic Worker, Garner, NC
Bill Frankel-Streit, Little Flower Catholic Worker, Virginia
Kevin Mason, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Washington, DC
Brian Hynes, Peace Activist, New York City
Mary Grace, Peace Activist, Virginia
Eve Tetaz, Peace Activist, Washington, DC
Litany Remembering All Children Who Are Victims of Violence and War
Remember the 20 children who died in Newtown, Connecticut.
Remember the 35 children who died in Gaza this month from Israeli bombardments.
Remember the 168 children who have been killed by US drone attacks in Pakistan since 2006.
Remember the 231 children killed in Afghanistan in the first 6 months of this year.
Remember the 400 other children in the US under the age of 15 who die from gunshot wounds each year.
Remember the 921 children killed by US air strikes against insurgents in Iraq.
Remember the 1,770 US children who die each year from child abuse and maltreatment.
Remember the 16,000 children who die each day around the world from hunger.
These tragedies must end.
(This Litany is taken from an article published on Monday, December 17, 2012 by Common Dreams, Remember All the Children, Mr. President, by Bill Quigley)