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
Let Them Eat Grapes
The United Farm Workers union has called off its 16-year boycott of California table grapes, citing recent organizing and contract victories as the reason.
Can't Buy Me Love
54 percent of global billionaires are in the United States
John Sage is low-key in approach and evangelistic in mission: Save the world through coffee. Can't be done, you say?
The YouthPeace organizing packet has graphics, media information, literature lists, and training, workshop, and organizing ideas for local youth activists.
Volumes of Inspiration
Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines, edited by Richard Foster.
You want salsa with that Mujerista?
Mujerista may not be a familiar term yet, but theologians and others are starting to pay more attention to the voices of Latinas in this country and elsewhere
Last September's primary elections finally put an African American in Selma, Alabama's city hall—a first for the city.
Resources for study and action
"To serve the 250 grams of beluga caviar it sells for $139, [Neiman Marcus] offers a $1,500...silver-plated bowl ‘supported,' according to the catalog, ‘by a base of graceful sturgeons.'"
Don't Mess with Texas
Nothing talks like money.
Peace Talks at SOA
While 10,000 protestors gathered outside the gates of the U.S.
Tinseltown Loses Its Pastor
Paulist priest and movie producer Ellwood "Bud" Kieser, known as the Father of Hollywood, died September 16. He was 71.
In Memory of Her
"Whatever the turmoil, whatever the divisions among humankind, whatever the violence, the followers of Jesus can refuse to be moved from his transcendent message of peace.
Good Evening, Liberated Serbia!
Prior to the October 2000 ouster of Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic, the United States pumped $77 million into the fragile opposition movement
The Grim Sweeper
Making caskets is fine. But who's going to clean up this mess? Inside their light, fragrant workshop, a handful of monks are hard at work. They're planing. They're ripping.
Jury: Generals "Not Guilty"
The presidential elections weren't the only things casting a long shadow over the Sunshine State this fall.
A Caged Bird Sings
Save the Chickens
Chickens have evidently found a soft place in the hearts of McDonald's management...
New Eden. Same Snake?
What they're saying about the Human Genome Project.