Senior Editor, Sojourners magazine
Photo: Brandon Hook / Sojourners

Invite Rose to Speak

Rose, a native of the West Coast, lives in Washington, D.C. She has been on Sojourners staff since 1986.

For more than 30 years, Rose has rooted herself with Sojourners magazine and ministry. 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.

A native of the West Coast, Rose has lived in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C. since the mid-1980s. In the course of a 30 plus-year career in faith-based activism, advocacy journalism, and pastoral leadership, she has proven to be a skilled organizer, exceptional writer, visionary pastoral leader, and innovative teacher of biblical literacy.

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 Associate Editor of Sojourners magazine, where she writes a regular column on spirituality and justice. She is responsible for the Living the Word section, poetry, Bible studies, and interviews – and oversees the production of study guides, discussion guides, and the online bible study Preaching the Word. She is also 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.

Rose has a veteran history in social justice activism, including: 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.

A founding member of a small creative writing group, 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 senior editor and poetry editor for Sojourners magazine.

She has traveled throughout the United States, and also in 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’s articles include:

She lives in the Southern Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C., in the Anacostia watershed on traditional Piscataway lands.

Posts By This Author

Languages and People Disappeared

by Rose Marie Berger 07-01-1998
The danger of "men with guns"

Rough hands gripped mine. I stared down, uncomfortable, at the yellow and silver Formica table. "Tat nupal," the voices began, "tey tinemi tic ne ylhuicatl." In a run-down tract house in the weedy suburbs of Washington, D.C., five Salvadoran refugees began their evening blessing over our meal. "Our Creator in heaven," they pray in Nahuat, one of the indigenous languages of El Salvador. As a poet in a time when languages are being lost at a rate equivalent to the rain forest, I clung to the edges of the words, the narrowness of their sound, their rhythm like wind in high trees, never expecting to hear them again.

John Sayles’ newest film, Men With Guns, not only includes dialogue in Nahuat, but in Tzotzil, Maya, and Kuna, as well as Spanish and English. "Language is one of the main gaps between people," Sayles says about his characters. "If everyone was speaking English, the story wouldn’t make as much sense." (The subtitles, by the way, are clear and excellent.)

In his understated way, Sayles’ movie mission is about making sense. He does so not in a rational, superficial, or always socially recognizable way, but on a very human and spiritual level, digging at the question of how to shore up faith and uncover meaning in daily life.

Sayles characteristically uses a guide, an outsider, someone who leads the viewer through self-discovery in the story. In The Brother From Another Planet (1984), the guide is a black mute extraterrestrial who beams down in Harlem; in Matewan (1987), a union organizer; in The Secret of Roan Inish (1994), a young girl. In Men With Guns, our "escort" is Humberto Fuentes (Argentinean actor Federico Luppi), a wealthy doctor approaching retirement who has never paid any attention to the political realities of his unspecified country. He considers his greatest achievement to be his participation in an international health program in which he trained students to work as doctors in the poorest villages.

Of Love's Risen Body

by Rose Marie Berger 03-01-1998
The poetry of Denise Levertov, 1923-1997

Tibet or Not Tibet

by Rose Marie Berger 01-01-1998
Hollywood visits China.

The Art of Loving

by Rose Marie Berger 11-09-1997
Image via Zvonimir Atletic/Shutterstock.com

We can call Mother Teresa saintly without also calling her a prophet.

What Sustains over the Long Haul

by Rose Marie Berger, by Lois Gibbs 07-01-1997
An interview with Lois Gibbs

Asian Immigrant Women Advocates

by Rose Marie Berger 07-01-1997

When most people hear "Silicon Valley," words such as clean, pure, technologically developed, and high personal income usually come to mind.

The Good Housekeeping Award

by Rose Marie Berger 07-01-1997
Women heroes of environmental activism

One Monk, One Yak

by Rose Marie Berger 07-01-1997
Tibet continues its 37-year fight for freedom

Golden Rain

by Rose Marie Berger 05-01-1997

Northern cardinal chips away
at the blue light

The Gospel Passion

by Rose Marie Berger 01-01-1997
Reynolds Price's story of good news.

Mario Savio

by Rose Marie Berger 01-01-1997

There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part....

 

Two Faces of Bosnia

by Rose Marie Berger 11-01-1996

It's 4:20 p.m. I'm standing over the Olympic soccer stadium in Sarajevo. From one goal post to the other are graves-headstones of various sizes and shapes, most unmarked.

Calm Before the Storm?

by Rose Marie Berger 09-01-1996
There is no easy road to Bosnian peace.

In Bosnia, there are no easy answers. Any question naively put forth by outsiders prompts a history lesson that usually begins at the time of Constantine if directed at a Croat, the 1389 Battle of Kosovo if toward a Serb, and the fall of the Ottoman Empire if speaking with a Muslim. For Americans who can't remember what they watched on television last night, this can be a bit disconcerting. However, while history does not predetermine a country's direction, it does highlight possible futures.

In the aftermath of genocide in Bosnia, the fundamental question is, Did this have to happen? The answer is no. Here at the end of the 20th century we have participated in a global dramatization of the adage, "All that evil needs to triumph is for good [people] to do nothing."

Contrary to the propaganda of the U.S. media, the former Yugoslavia is not genetically encoded for violence; nor did the collapse of communism preordain civil war. The mass graves that NATO forces are opening in Srebrenica, Jajce, and Tuzla are not only filled with sons, fathers, daughters, and friends, but with the coldly pragmatic, morally vacuous remnants of empires' attempts to save themselves.

Serbian President Milosevi´c, a very intelligent Communist hardliner, had no future in the age of democracy, so he initiated a violent land grab, particularly for Bosnia's military-industrial factories. Croatian President Tudjman had a small-minded Nixonesque craving for power. After Croatia's relatively successful secession from Yugoslavia, he took advantage of the chaos created by the Serb aggression to indulge his greed and extend the Croatian borders.

Night Gardener

by Rose Marie Berger 09-01-1996
A poem

Sarajevo, 1995

I dream now of potatoes—
white, russet, red.
Sentinel potatoes, like Argus,
with eyes everywhere;
watching the dead underground
in the cemetery,
in the stadium,
in the streetcar turnaround.

Death's Dance Broken

by Julie Polter, by Rose Marie Berger 07-01-1996
Dianna Ortiz's Vigil for Truth.

Down From the Mountain

An interview with author Dennis Covington

The Artistic Life of the Faithful

by Rose Marie Berger 05-01-1996

IN MY AUGHT YEARS (that time before teen-dom), somebody in my family left a hamburger on the stove, which proceeded to catch afire.

A Gritty Liturgy of Faith

by Rose Marie Berger 03-01-1996
The challenge of Dead Man Walking

Meditations on Breaking the Law

by Rose Marie Berger 03-01-1996
If we could split ourselves

Silence Within Us

by Rose Marie Berger 01-01-1996
The architecture of life in two foreign films.