by Art Laffin, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker
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 60 people from the Atlantic and Southern Life Communities, and the New Jerusalem Community in Philadelphia, gathered in Washington, D.C. from December 27-30 for the annual Holy Innocents Faith and Resistance retreat. The retreat included a moving ritual on the theme of the retreat, several compelling panels with parents and children reflecting on their experience living in Catholic Worker and resistance communities, prayerful reflection and liturgy, three nonviolent actions, and a spirited talent show.
On December 28, the feast commemorating the slaughter of the holy innocents in Bethlehem ordered by King Herod, the community held an early morning witness outside the Pentagon metro entrance. Displaying a small mock drone warplane, eleven people staged a “die-in” to represent children and numerous others who have been murdered by U.S. Drone attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere. They were arrested and charged with failure to obey a lawful order and released several hours later with a February 17 court date.* Following the arrests, as hundreds of military and civilian workers streamed into the Pentagon, the remainder of the community held a prayer service in the fenced-off area outside the Pentagon metro known as the “free speech” or “protest zone.”
On December 29, the community held a noon-time witness in front of the White House. Using the “mic-check” form of speaking that is practiced by the Occupy Movement, the witness included a reading of the massacre of the holy innocents (Mt. 2: 13-18), an account of how U.S. Drone warplanes are murdering innocents today, a “die-in” using a mock drone warplane, an offering of peace, justice and nonviolence resolutions for the New Year, and a creative spirit-led dance with people singing “Down By the Riverside.” This same action was repeated again on December 30 at the White House with one addition. Toward the end of the witness, streamers with statements of how Drones can be transformed to serve life were placed on the mock drone warplane by adults and children. The retreat concluded with a closing circle at the anti-nuclear/anti-war vigil site across from the White House that was started by the late William Thomas and where Conception has vigiled for the last thirty years.
Let us continue to pray with and for each other in this New Year as we conspire to create the Beloved Community. For with God and each other all things are possible!
Those arrested at the Pentagon were:
- Bill Frankel-Streit, Little Flower Catholic Worker in Virginia
- Amber Mason, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker
- Kevin Mason, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker
- Kathy Boylan, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker
- Clare Grady, Ithaca Catholic Worker
- Marie Grady-DeMott, Ithaca Catholic Worker
- Steve Woolford, Silk Hope (N.C.) Catholic Worker
- Liz McAlister, Jonah House
- Sr. Margaret McKenna, New Jerusalem Community
- Rosemary Thompson, Baltimore peace activist
- Joan Wages, Peace activist from Central Virginia