Senior Associate 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 Religion News Service, Radical Grace, 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 Associate 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

Rachel's Wail for a Murdered Teen

by Rose Marie Berger 02-01-2011

Last week the body of a young woman was found near my house. She was 17 years old. She'd been murdered. The garbage men reported finding her in a supercan in the alley.

Remembering the Little Bishop Who Roared

by Rose Marie Berger 01-25-2011
Retired Catholic Bishop Samuel Ruíz Garcia, known as the champion of the poor and indigenous in southern Mexico, died January 24 of complications from diabetes. He was 86.

Guantanamo: When Will It Get Foreclosed?

by Rose Marie Berger 01-14-2011

Please keep in your prayers those who are fasting and praying at the U.S. capitol between January 11 to 21, keeping vigil for the closing of the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo. As an opening to their prayer vigil Wednesday, they engaged in a little prophetic street theater in front of the Justice Department.

In August 2007, candidate Obama promised to close Guantanamo, saying, "As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists."

In January 2009, one of President Obama's first official acts was to sign an executive order promising to close Guantanamo within one year. "This is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the campaign, but I think an understanding that dates back to our founding fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard," he said.

Who Killed Donte Manning?

by Rose Marie Berger 01-01-2011
A 9-year-old's murder tells us much about his neighborhood—and about America.

When I moved to the riot-dismembered neighborhood of Columbia Heights, Washington, D.C., in 1986, I had no idea I would still be here more than 20 years later. I anticipated a rather bohemian life of Christian itinerancy—owning little property and moving where the spirit led. Instead, I was provided with a 100-year-old house (with much of the original wiring) and the gift of stability.

It is from this house that, on some mornings, I glimpse little neighborhood boys on their way to school. Donte Manning was undoubtedly one of those boys—laughing with the school crossing guard, running with his friends, scraping handfuls of snow off parked cars for snowballs. He was just a little boy.

In the mysterious mechanics of God's universe, Donte's murder on Holy Thursday in 2005 set off a spiritual alarm deep inside me. I followed the scraps of his story in The Washington Post. I read the police reports and spoke with neighbors. Over time, his story became linked with my own—and with our own story as Americans.

Donte Manning was in the third grade when he was shot in the face around the corner from my house. Pop, pop, pop. It was Holy Thursday—a little before 10 p.m. The next morning I was leaving Washington, D.C., for a trip to El Salvador. Pop, pop, pop. Six shots on a street filled with kids enjoying a warm night before the Easter holiday.

Out of the Mouths of Asses...

by Rose Marie Berger 01-01-2011
Donkeys and the Jonah House Catholic Worker community in Baltimore

It's often good to have a donkey with you when you pray. They provide a natural antidote to excessive piety. Take my recent retreat day at the Jonah House Catholic Worker community in Baltimore. Since 1992, the members of Jonah House have served as caretakers for a 20-acre Catholic cemetery that had been abandoned since the 1980s. Bit by bit the community is reclaiming the graveyard from the underbrush and overgrowth. It’s bordered by the Emanuel Tire Co. reclamation plant, a Section-8 housing complex, and the Maryland National Guard.

On All Saints Day I visited Jonah House to quietly pray the litany of the saints while surrounded by that "great cloud of witnesses"—both living and dead. It was a stunning autumn morning. Sunlight filtered through the red oaks. However, while walking the quarter-mile track around the graves and headstones, I was unceremoniously shoved from behind—hard.

This was my introduction to Vinnie the 3-year-old donkey. Despite the name, Vinnie actually is female. (The president of the St. Peter's Cemetery Foundation demanded that the next animal adopted into the community be named after him. What can you do?) And she's very strong. After I completed a few more circuits of the prayer walk—with Vinnie doing heavy prodding and me jabbing back hard between "amens"—we reached a rapprochement. I walked with a handful of grass in my left hand and Vinnie sauntered easily beside me, nibbling as we went. I felt like St. Francis. A victorious achievement in sacred cross-species communion.

This Veterans Day, Honor the Consciences of Our Veterans

by Rose Marie Berger 11-11-2010
Today, on Armistice Day, 18 American military vets will commit suicide.

Loving the World

by Rose Marie Berger 11-01-2010

"For God so loved the world ..." Lately John 3:16 won't leave me alone. It hovers above my shoulder as I read The Washington Post. Really, God? You love this world?

More Books on Nonviolence

by Rose Marie Berger 11-01-2010
History, Strategy, and Community

Celebrate the Peace Parade

by Rose Marie Berger 11-01-2010

Books on nonviolence, in theory and in practice.

Words on the Living Word

by Rose Marie Berger 11-01-2010
7 Books for Bible geeks and other interested readers.

5 Books on the Nitty-Gritty of Nonviolence

by Rose Marie Berger 10-28-2010
In the November issue of Sojourners, Rose Marie Berger reviews seve

5 Books on Making Nonviolence Work in a Scary World

by Rose Marie Berger 10-25-2010
In the November issue of Sojourners, Rose Marie Berger reviews seve

As Passionate as the Parisians

by Rose Marie Berger 10-22-2010
They are rioting in Paris to prevent the government from resolving its debt crisis on the backs of the middle class.

World-Renowned Peacemaker Art Gish Dies

by Rose Marie Berger 07-29-2010

Art and Peggy Gish are career peace, civil rights, and human rights activists who embody the motto of their primary affiliation, Christian Peacemaker Teams: "Getting in the way."

"CO2 is Green": More Big Oil Propaganda

by Rose Marie Berger 07-22-2010

Gulf Apocalypse: Don't Watch This Video

by Rose Marie Berger 07-19-2010

Conservationist John L. Wathen a.k.a.

U.S. Tax Dollars at Work?

by Rose Marie Berger 07-01-2010

In 2009, a mass grave, possibly the largest in Latin America, was discovered near La Macarena, Colombia, within sight of a major military base that is also used by U.S.

Justice for the ‘Angel of the Amazon’

by Rose Marie Berger 07-01-2010

In May, a court in Brazil sentenced a second rancher to 30 years in prison for ordering the murder of Dorothy Stang, a Catholic Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, who worked in Brazil with small farmer

Jesus Bandz

by Rose Marie Berger 07-01-2010

Alabama-based BelieverBands has jumped on the silly-bandz wagon with its own stretchy evangelism.

Learning Lessons the Hard Way

by Rose Marie Berger 07-01-2010
Knowing that we are going to die, how then should we live?