Rose Marie Berger is a Catholic peace activist and poet. She has been on Sojourners staff since 1986, and worked for social justice movements for 40 years. Rose has rooted herself with Sojourners magazine and ministry. She has written hundreds of articles for Sojourners and other publications and is a sought after preacher and public speaker. After living in Washington, D.C., for 35 years, she moved to Oak View, Calif., in 2022.
Rose’s work in Christian nonviolence has taken her to conflict zones around the world. She is active in the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, a project of Pax Christi International, and served as co-editor for Advancing Nonviolence and Just Peace in the Church and the World, the fruit of a multiyear, global, participatory process to deepen Catholic understanding of and commitment to Gospel nonviolence. Her poetry has appeared in the books Watershed Discipleship: Reinhabiting a Bioregional Faith and Practice and Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation, Land Justice, and Life Together. She is author of Bending the Arch: Poems (2019), Drawn By God: A History of the Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries from 1967 to 1991 (with Janet Gottschalk, 2012), and Who Killed Donte Manning? The Story of an American Neighborhood. She has also been a religion reviewer for Publishers Weekly and a Huffington Post commentator. Her work has appeared in National Catholic Reporter, Publishers Weekly, Religion News Service, Radical Grace-Oneing, The Merton Seasonal, U.S. Catholic, and elsewhere. She serves on the board of The International Thomas Merton Society.
With Sojourners, Rose has worked as an organizer on peace and environmental issues, internship program director, liturgist, community pastor, poetry editor, and, currently, as a senior editor of Sojourners magazine, where she writes a regular column on spirituality and justice. She is responsible for the Living the Word biblical reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, poetry, Bible studies, and interviews – and oversees the production of study guides and the online Bible study Preaching the Word.
Rose has a veteran history in social justice activism, including: leading the first international, inter-religious peace witness into Kyiv, Ukraine, following the outbreak of war in 2022, organizing inter-religious witness against the Keystone XL pipeline; educating and training groups in nonviolence; leading retreats in spirituality and justice; writing on topics as diverse as the “Spiritual Vision of Van Gogh, O'Keeffe, and Warhol,” the war in the Balkans, interviews with Black activists Vincent Harding and Yvonne Delk, the Love Canal's Lois Gibbs, and Mexican archbishop Ruiz, cultural commentary on the Catholic church and the peace movement, reviews of movies, books, and music.
Rose Berger has taught writing and poetry workshops for children and adults. She’s completed her MFA in poetry through the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program. Her poetry has been published in Sojourners, The Other Side, Radix and D.C. Poets Against the War.
Rose grew up in the Central Valley of California, located in the rich flood plains of the Sacramento and American rivers. Raised in radical Catholic communities heavily influenced by Franciscans and the Catholic Worker movement, she served for nine years on the pastoral team for Sojourners Community Church; five as its co-pastor. She directed Sojourners internship program from 1990-1999. She is currently a senior editor and poetry editor for Sojourners magazine. She has traveled throughout the United States, and also in Ukraine, Israel/Palestine, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosova, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and El Salvador visiting primarily with faith communities working for peace in situations of conflict.
Rose was born when atmospheric CO2 was at 319.08 ppm and now lives with her wife Heidi Thompson in Oak View, Calif., in the Ventura River watershed on traditional Chumash lands. Learn more at rosemarieberger.com.
Rose’s articles include:
- Pursuing the Secret of Joy: What is joy when it's not promiscuously tied to happiness, Hallmark, or hedonism?
- Why Our Faith Delegation went to Ukraine?: Our public message was simple: “We have come to Kyiv in solidarity to pray for a just peace.”
- Nonviolence in Najaf?: Will we recognize an Islamic peace movement when we see it?
- Of Love's Risen Body: The poetry of Denise Levertov, 1923-1997
- Glimpses of God Outside the Temple: The spiritual vision of Vincent Van Gogh, Georgia O'Keefe, and Andy Warhol.
- Damnation Will Not Be Televised: Almost everything I know about hell I learned from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Christian nonviolence, peace, war
- Catholic Nonviolence Initiative
- Climate change, creation care, watershed discipleship
- Bible study, liturgical year
- Spirituality and social justice
- Any topic covered in Sojourners magazine
- Preference for virtual events, but willing to discuss in-person events on case-by-case basis
Posts By This Author
First in Truth
North Carolinians take pride in their "First in Flight" license plates. Now they can claim another firstthe first Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the United States.
Bearing Another's Burden
In September, cities on the Atlantic seaboard between Boston and Charleston, South Carolina, will host a dramatic journey of truth telling and reconciliation. White Americans and Europeans will walk silently through the streets literally yoked together with the chains and coffles used to control the slaves traded at
Perception or Paranoia?
White evangelicals in the United States are living a paradox, according to a study by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Inc. Seventy-two percent of white evangelical Christians feel hostility from the mainstream media, yet more than 75 percent of
The Sabbath Sweet Spot
More than 50 leaders from Christian organizations across Asia met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to develop a coordinated response to child sexual abuse and child trafficking. Participants at this first Asia Consultation of Viva Network's Asha Forum
Cure Worse than Cause?
Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private operator of prisons in the United States, has partnered with Institute in Basic Life Principles, an evangelical Christian ministry founded by Bill Gothard, to provide four- to six-month Christian rehabilitation programs aimed at reducing recidivism
Eye On Zion
The Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem hosted more than 500 representatives from 31 countries in April to address the dangers of Christian Zionism. "Christian
No Butts About It
Who knew that the pentecostal "tongues of fire" experience was the inaugural meeting of smokers anonymous? If you think smoking is cool, then extinguishing your cigarette by pushing its searing hot tip against an image of Jesus' face might convince you otherwise. This ashtray promises a dose of
Seeming is believing, according to the Program on International Policy Attitudes, which released a March 2004 survey of U.S. public perception regarding weapons of mass destruction. Americans think that the United States has 200 nuclear weapons ready to be used on short notice. The actual
Star Woes. Twenty Canadian church leaders, including several Orthodox bishops, sent a letter in March to Prime Minister Paul Martin urging Canada to abandon plans to join with the United States in its ballistic missile defense strategy.
Eucharist in an Election Year
A 2003 report claims that the Bush administration's hydrogen economy initiative stops short of offering an affordable and efficient solution to U.S. dependence on foreign oil in the near future. David Morris, vice president of the Institute for
The United Methodist Church has decided that its aging and medication-dependent denominational constituents can't wait until the fall presidential elections for relief from the high cost of prescription drugs. In a partnership with DestinationRx,
I am Mordechai Vanunu
Anti-nuclear activist Mordechai Vanunu was released from an Israeli prison April 21 after completing an 18-year sentence for telling the world about Israel's previously secret nuclear weapons program. Vanunu exited Shikma Prison saying: "I am Mordechai Vanunu, the man behind The [London] Sunday
Between the Lines
Ten Years of Freedom
South African voters elected a new national parliament and nine provincial governments in the nation's third "all-races" elections since the end of apartheid in 1994. Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu (above) applauds after casting his vote. "Often they say the first election after democracy is the last," Tutu told SABCNews. "Many countries degenerate into dictatorships. We are disproving that. We are taking it in our stride."
Counting Your Cubits
Maybe your thwarted dreams of urban development, ancient Hebrew-style, have got you down. Or you could just be pining for a reason to turn off the television. Either way, pout no more! Uberplay and Inspiration Games brings you "The Ark of the Covenant," an intriguing tile-laying game for all ages that adds biblical themes to the award-winning German game "Carcassonne." Each drawn tile adds to land, a road, a temple, or a city. Then sheep, wolves, and strategically placed followers and prophets add to the earned points of completed projects.
"The game doesn't try to teach doctrine. It just gives people an opportunity to talk about history and have fun," said Uberplay's Matt Molen. He says it's the perfect combination of collaboration and competition. (Of course, in Jesus' version the rules are reversed. You win by how much you give away.)
Heaven in Henry County
Sojourners associate editor Rose Marie Berger and photographer Ryan Beiler spent a Sunday afternoon in February with Wendell Berry at his farm in Henry County, Kentucky. Berry is the author of more than 40 books of fiction, poetry, and essays including The Unsettling of America, What are People For?, Life is a Miracle, Citizenship Papers, and The Art of the Commonplace. He has farmed in a traditional manner for nearly 40 years.
Sojourners: How does your identity as a writer connect to this region and land?
Wendell Berry: I was born here in Henry County. I grew up in these little towns, and in the countryside, on the farms. All my early memories are here. All the voices that surrounded me from the time I became able to hear were from here. This place where we're sitting today is the old property known as Lane's Landing. Twelve acres, more or less, the deed says. My wife, Tanya, and I came back here in 1964 and have lived here for 39 years, raised our children here. How could you draw a line separating this place and my identity? If you've known these places from your early youth, that means that you have a chance to know them in a way that other people never will.
We're on the west side of the Kentucky River, in the Kentucky River Valley. Some people call this the Outer Bluegrass. An old ocean laid down these layers of limestone in the soil. There are lots of trees here. There are white, chinquapin, red, black, and shumard oaks. Those are the principal ones.
Xtreme Peace. Eight Palestinians and Israelis completed an Antarctic expedition called "Breaking the Ice" to prove that "our peoples can and deserve to live together in peace and friendship," according to their statement. Two of the Palestinians had served time in an Israeli prison. Two of the Israelis were former members of a commando unit.
Riot Report. Obdulio Villanueva - a former Guatemalan military officer serving a 30-year sentence for the 1998 assassination of Catholic Bishop Juan Gerardi, a human rights leader - was killed in February during a prison riot in Guatemala City, according to Reuters.
Spotlight. South African Quaker, anti-apartheid activist, and theoretical cosmologist George F.R. Ellis won the 2004 Templeton Prize for advances in religion and science. Ellis is splitting the $1.4 million award between his retirement trust and a number of small South African nonprofit agencies.
Web Exclusive: Wendell Berry interview complete text
Sojourners associate editor Rose Marie Berger and photographer Ryan Beiler spent a Sunday afternoon in February with Wendell Berry at his farm in Henry County, Kentucky. Berry is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and essays, including The Unsettling of America, What are People For?, Life is Beautiful, Citizenship Papers, and The Art of the Commonplace. He has farmed in a traditional manner for nearly forty years. Berry spoke with Sojourners about religious practice, Bluegrass country, defending against Wal-Mart, usury, and Jesus. - The Editors
ROSE MARIE BERGER: Tell me about this land, about this bioregion, about the history of your farm.
WENDELL BERRY: We're on the west side of the Kentucky River, in the Kentucky River Valley. Some people call this the Outer Bluegrass; there are other names for it. We have limestone soils. An old ocean or sea laid down these layers of limestone. There are lots of trees here. There are white, chinquapin, red, black, and shumard oaks. Those are the principle ones. And we have two or three kinds of ash, maples, several varieties of hickory, black walnut, sycamore, black locust, honey locust, cedar, basswood, red elm, slippery elm. We used to have chestnuts once. Tanya and I have 125 acres altogether, 75 here and about 50 on Cane Run.
This place where we're sitting today, is the old property known as Lane's Landing. Twelve acres, more or less, the deed says. Tanya and I bought it in 1964 and moved in the next year. So we've been here thirty-nine years.
For Pete's Sake
How can a Christian tick off both porn filmmakers and religious conservatives? Ask youth pastors Mike Foster and Craig Gross, who created xxxchurch.com, "the #1 Christian Porn Site" on the Internet, calling children and adults to
Counting Your Cubits
Maybe your thwarted dreams of urban development, ancient Hebrew-style, have got you down. Or you could just be pining for a reason to turn off the television. Either way, pout no more! Uberplay and Inspiration Games brings you "The Ark of the Covenant," an intriguing tile-laying game for all ages that