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
Resistance Is Not Futile
Some thoughts on sowing the mustard seed.
How to Change the World
A training manual in nonviolent revolution.
Don't Call Me a Saint!
In Memory of Madonna Kolbenschlag
Madonna Kolbenschlag died January 29 in Santiago, Chile, while attending a meeting of the School of Ecofeminist Spirituality and Ethics. She was 64.
A New Team Takes the Field
Jose Montenegro grew up on a small farm in Durango, Mexico—a farm his father still owns and manages. Today Montenegro is director of the Rural Development Center in Salinas, California, providing training for migrant farm workers to become independent farmers. "There is this passion, this love, that Mexican people have for the land that goes way back to our ancestors," Montenegro says. "When I came [to the United States] I worked in factories, but I was looking for a commitment, not just a job."
The Rural Development Center opened its doors in the 1980s to address an unrecognized statistic. While California’s "traditional" family farms—run by the descendents of European immigrants—were on the decline, between 1992 and 1997 there was a 32 percent increase in Latino farm owners.
The same statistics are turning up around the country for "nontraditional" and "new entry" farmers. Nearly 9 percent of U.S. farms are owned and operated by women. The percentage of black-owned farms is also on the rise, due in part to the 1997 discrimination suit black farmers won against the USDA. There is a nationwide increase in small farms owned or operated by American Indians, Latinos, and Asians.
The USDA’s National Commission on Small Farms is changing the climate for small farm owners. The Ag Department’s Civil Rights Action Team recommended formation of the commission after it was recognized that, in addition to racial discrimination, government policies and practices have discriminated against small farm operators.
Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing is a wonk-world of pure imagination. It’s compelling, intelligent, fast-paced, and seductive.
NBC’s new Wednesday night poli-drama has the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) up in arms in response to episode two, when fictional president Josiah Bartlet (played with ego-centered magnanimity by Martin Sheen) wants to bomb Syria off the map for downing an unarmed U.S. Air Force jet. Says ADC president Hala Maksoud, "By creating a fictional story that blames a real nation and people for such a heinous crime, NBC has slandered an entire nation in the most unfair manner possible."
This episode, titled "A Proportional Response," shows the impact of Just War theory in limiting the military response of the powerful. The president is finally talked down by his chief of staff (played brilliantly by John Spencer), who reminds Bartlet that a more reasoned response "is what our fathers taught us." While it is a far cry from active nonviolence (activist-celeb Sheen’s preferred mode), it is nonetheless a sharp new architecture in the exurbs of network TV.
Sorkin, the creator of another talk-box hit, Sports Night, is known for his frenetic literary dialogue, quick quips, and tight emotional maneuvering. Perhaps his swill of choice, Yoo-Hoo chocolate drink, gives him the edge.
Emmy-winning director Thomas Schlamme sparks the small screen with a rich visual field. The Oval Office (thanks to visual consultant Jon Hutman) looks like the real thing. When Air Force One isn’t really Air Force One (and it often is), it’s a very good Virgin Atlantic 747 imitation. The deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) totes Elizabeth Drew’s current Beltway bible The Corruption of American Politics: What Went Wrong and Why under his arm.
Knock, Knock. Who's There.
Why I'm Walking to Work Tomorrow
Putting a price on pollution.
A Laboratory of Reconciliation
The war in Kosovo is over. The question now: How to build peace? Their neighbors in Bosnia might just have the beginnings of an answer.
Spiritual Reconstruction in Kosovo
Pristina, KosovoAt the Macedonia-Kosovo border, kids on the roadside are selling Coke and fresh brown eggs.
Why Did You Come Here?
Camp Rakovica, Sarajevo—There were 1,500 Kosovar refugees in this camp on the dusty outskirts of Sarajevo. They had come by bus, car, and on foot.
Glimpses of God Outside the Temple
Begin with Disillusionment
What lessons for the future can we learn from Kosovo?
Praying For Peace in Yugoslavia
Starting on Sunday, May 16, thousands of people of faith around the United States, Europe, and Yugoslavia have held candlelight prayer vigils on local bridges and overpasses as a witness for peace in Yugoslavia...