Senior Editor, Sojourners magazine

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 NeighborhoodShe 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:

Rose Marie Berger is available to speak at your next event. Please review our speaker instructions and guidelines or check out our full list of Sojourners speakers.

Speaking Topics

  • Christian nonviolence, peace, war
  • Catholic Nonviolence Initiative
  • Climate change, creation care, watershed discipleship
  • Bible study, liturgical year
  • Poetry
  • Spirituality and social justice
  • Any topic covered in Sojourners magazine
  • Catholicism

Speaking Format

  • Preference for virtual events, but willing to discuss in-person events on case-by-case basis

Posts By This Author

Beyond Voter Registration

A recent survey of political involvement by black churches, conducted by Morehouse College’s "Public Influences of African-American Churches Project"...

On the Ground in Bogota, Colombia

by Rose Marie Berger 07-01-2001

Voices from the Colombian church's human rights community.

Why Driving Is Too Cheap

$446.3 billion "social cost" of driving in 2000* (18 cents/mile)

Building Supplies

What can you do about youth violence? 

 

T'cha From the Old School

Kris Parker, better known as hip-hop legend KRS-One (which stands for Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone), left his job at Warner Bros.

Can You Say "Counterinsurgency"?

by Rose Marie Berger 05-01-2001

In November 2000, Congress passed "Plan Colombia," a $1.3 billion plan to fight cocaine production in Colombia. 

Eight Pretty Bad Corporations

Aventis CropScience. Put genetically altered and EPA unapproved "Star Link" corn in Taco Bell brand taco shells; at least 44 people became ill.

Sex in the City (and the suburbs)

There is a new ad campaign hitting the national media called "Sex Has Consequences." 

Great Scot!

Hours after the Scottish Royal Navy announced that its fourth Trident nuclear-armed submarine—the HMS Vengeance—had entered service, 373 protesters were arrested in the largest-ever dem

Computers are the key to the future. Or not.

"Computer science is the best instrument of history to release man's creativity...

Building Supplies

"Uncharted Waters" is a new Mars Hill Audio report exploring the social, economic, and moral costs of casino gambling on the small town of Tunica, Mississippi.

Operator? Get Me Jesus On the Line

The first-ever sacred pre-paid phone card series is available from Siesta Telecom Inc. 

News Bites

During the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, the Swiss border patrol prevented Naomi Klein's anti-corporate bestseller No Logo from entering the country. Apparently those little ca

 

Alternative Trade Routes

Want to learn about trade laws for small businesses in Tanzania? Or buy lovely handcrafted mugs for your church volunteers? 

Attitudes and Latitudes

Poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes

 

To Sip or Dip?

Christians who dip their bread in the common Communion cup for fear of diseases are far more likely to get the common cold than those who sip.

FBO Land

by Rose Marie Berger, by Duane Shank 05-01-2001
A game of faith-based organizations.

Defining Moment

Nike now lets you personalize your shoes by submitting a word or phrase the company will stitch beneath the swoosh.

The Time of Coca

by Rose Marie Berger 05-01-2001
On the Colombian front of the drug war, it's hard to tell who—or what—is the real enemy.

Sojourners assistant editor Rose Marie Berger traveled to Colombia in January with the human rights organization Witness for Peace to get a firsthand look at the supply side of the "war on drugs." She sought to assess the on-the-ground effects of "Plan Colombia"—the $1.3 billion U.S. military aid package approved by Congress last fall. The group met with a wide range of people, from local pastors and human rights workers to U.S. Embassy and Colombian government officials. They met subsistence farmers who grow coca that is processed into cocaine, a product that ravages neighborhoods across the United States—neighborhoods like Washington, D.C.'s Columbia Heights, where Berger lives. The effects of this "Colombia-to-Columbia Heights" connection, Berger writes, can be seen every day "in the form of discarded crack bags, late-night weapons fire, and prostitution."

The most difficult aspect of the experience for Berger was dealing with the despair that is a natural response to the horrors she witnessed. How do you bring a message of hope, for instance, to the woman Berger met one afternoon in a refugee center—"a woman whose brother had been murdered by paramilitaries, crying uncontrollably in my arms." In the end, the only answer to that question may lie in the telling of the story.   
—The Editors

The pistol is shapely against his hip—hard glint of steel, sweaty camouflage. "I wasn't expecting you, but you are most welcome. Please sit. I'll send someone to get you water." Commandant Roberto Trujillo Navarro, a 1976 graduate of the School of the Americas, graciously welcomes the Witness for Peace representatives to the Santa Ana Forward Post, headquarters of the 24th Brigade in the sweltering jungle of Putumayo, in southern Colombia.

Trujillo is new to this post. The last commander was transferred after human rights groups publicized evidence that the 24th Brigade allowed paramilitaries to massacre civilians in the Putumayo region.

Behind the barracks condors sun themselves on the fence posts, blue-black wings stretched wide. The grassy ditch along the entrance road flaunts little metal signs warning of mines.

Putumayo takes its name from the river that is a natural border between Colombia and Ecuador and Peru. An area roughly the size of Vermont, Putumayo grows about 60 percent of the coca exported from Colombia—which produces 70 percent of the world's coca supply. Until 1996, the region was beyond the reach of any arm of government, a "Wild West" controlled by the world's oldest leftist insurgency, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Roads were built with grading equipment stolen by the FARC. Hospitals and schools were built by the FARC, too. And FARC "justice" was swift and permanent.

A Righteous Light

Jennifer Harbury's eight-year fight for justice in the death of her husband, Guatemalan resistance leader Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, has ended in victory.