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School of the Americas Watch

Prayer Intercessions for “School of the Americas Watch”
November 18, 19, 20, 21, 2011

Response: Open our eyes, gracious God, so we may see to act in gospel justice.
  1. We remember the children who have experienced abuse and disruption in their homes and communities by those soldiers trained in the School of the Americas, WHISC.  May they be lovingly embraced by people of peace….

  2. We give thanks for all those persons whose lives witness to peace and nonviolent actions during this SOA weekend. May they find the strength and courage to continue to live out their call as peacemakers….

  3. We pray for all those imprisoned for their actions for justice and peace. May they know the freedom promised by God to all who follow the way of peace….

  4. We ask for the gifts of the Spirit that we need to transform our lives going forth to live as peacemakers….
Prayer: We present our prayers to you, gracious God, as you continue to call us to be peacemakers.  We pray for all those afflicted by the violence of hatred, war, apathy and self-indulgence. May we listen to the peacemakers within our midst conforming to your call for gospel justice. Amen 
This story of two women of peace is offered as a one of readings for your prayer.
      Two sister-sisters sent to jail? At the same time? For the same “crime?” What in the world happened?
      That is just it. It is because of what is happening in the world – something which does not live up to U.S. ideals of freedom and democracy. Namely, U.S.-trained soldiers are accused of human rights abuses throughout Central and South America. Graduates of the U.S. Army’s infamous School of the Americas (SOA) have been implicated in the killing and torture of innocent people, including the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter in El Salvador.
       Renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC) and located at Fort Benning, Georgia, SOA has been the focus of yearly vigils and protests calling for its closure. Directed by Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois, SOA Watch has organized demonstrations and civil disobedience since 1990 as a “voice for the voiceless” people of countries without democracies. Non-violent civil disobedience is a way to draw attention to actions that are contrary to U.S. ideals.
       Dorothy and Gwen Hennessey, “sister-sisters” (biological sisters who are also Dubuque Franciscan Sisters), participated in SOA Watch protests in 2000. Their standing together non-violently, along with thousands of social justice activists, ended up taking them to jail together. They received the maximum sentence of 6-months in jail. Given the choice of 6-months of house arrest at the headquarters of her community in Dubuque, then 88-year old Dorothy declined.  She told the judge that she is not an invalid and that she did not want special treatment. Thus, she and her 68-year old sister, Gwen, reported for jail together at Pekin, the minimum-security prison for women in Illinois. Dorothy wore a small pin that read, “No one is free when others are oppressed.” As they served their sentences, Dorothy and Gwen reached out to others as others also reached out to them – teaching each other the rules of prison life, sharing stories, and praying together.
       Receiving the maximum sentence and going to jail was not something that either Gwen or Dorothy wanted or anticipated. Neither one was afraid to go to prison: “it strips you of your dignity and the whole bit,” Gwen noted. At the same time, she believes that “it is a small price to pay if it’s going to bring attention to the fact that our brothers and sisters in Latin America have suffered.”
       Dorothy and Gwen share a devotion to raising awareness as to what is going on in the world. They have a life-long commitment to act non-violently in order to help end violence at home and abroad. It was their shared commitment to shaping a just and peaceful world that took both of them to Fort Benning. Their actions, even going to jail, are testaments to their desire to heed Pope Paul VI’s maxim, “if you want peace, work for justice.” In 2002, they received the Pacem in Terris Award. Dorothy died on January 24, 2008, at the age of 94.
Taken from http://hillconnections.org “Inspirational People”  


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