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
Healing Hope. Family members of Sept. 11 victims traveled on a peace mission to Iraq in January.
Every Child a Soldier?
When public high schools opened their doors last fall, military recruiters lined up to get personal student data.
Best Practices: Ambassadors of Art
For years activists have called attention to the plight of the Palestinians through protests, teach-ins, and seminars.
In the Line of Duty
Rachel Corrie, 23, of Olympia, Washington, was killed March 16 when she was run over by an Israeli military bulldozer, moments after the photo at right was taken.
Through a Glass, Brightly
The Gallery at the American Bible Society in New York City recently presented "Reflections on Glass: 20th Century Stained Glass in American Art and Architecture."
One Citizen's Shining Light
On Feb. 9, 2003, Orion magazine took out a full-page advertisement on page five of The New York Times.
Reading Gilgamesh on the Day 500,000 Protesters Marched Against George W. Bush and Lockheed Martin's War on Iraq
Go to the Cyclops, to their metalworks, to buy your armaments—
Women Empowered to Fight AIDS
The San Francisco-based Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance received a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fight HIV/AIDS in Malawi, Africa.
My House, At Last, Grown Still
In January, Maine Interfaith Power and Light—an electricity-purchasing group rooted in the faith community—announced the availability of two green electricity options for homeowners in Maine.
Terrorist Training Camp?
Eighty-six human rights advocates from across the United States were tried in January and February in federal court for nonviolent civil disobedience
The Working World
Two years of economic slowdown has pushed the number of unemployed to new heights worldwide, according to a recent study by the International Labor Office.
Real Product: Got the Cube?
EvangeCube slaps the entire mystery of salvation on a Rubik-style cube, enabling instant conversions in friends, family, and neighbors. Flip one way and you'll see our fall from grace.
It's ironic that peace often brings strife.
Defending Life, Rights
Pro-life demonstrators protested the D.C. government's use of surveillance cameras during the January March for Life
A Poetry Roundup
Yesterday I got a call from a friend I hadn't spoken with in more than a year. "I have to tell someone this," she said.
Resources: Building Supplies
Still confused about the rules governing political activity by religious organizations?
Hyperventilating for the Lord
Critics who insist the church is full of hot air finally have their proof: British entrepreneur Mike Gill has introduced the world's first (and hopefully last) inflatable church.
Last November, 12 clergy in full regalia—accompanied by acolytes with candles, crosses, holy water, and faith—processed to the federal building in Portland, Oregon...