FW: Make the World Safer, Send a Nun To Jail
jcraven at SPAMclark.edu
Fri Jun 15 20:07:36 MDT 2001
From: portsideMod at netscape.net [mailto:portsideMod at netscape.net]
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2001 5:35 PM
To: portside at yahoogroups.com
Subject: Make the World Safer, Send a Nun To Jail
Make the World Safer, Send a Nun To Jail
by Stephanie Salter
June 14, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle
IT MIGHT be fine and dandy with some of you that the
government of the United States has thrown the book at an
88-year-old nun and her 68-year-old kid sister, who is
also a nun. Then again, maybe you don't even know about
Last month, in Columbus, Ga., U.S. Magistrate G. Mallon
Faircloth apparently decided to make the world safe from
religious women of conscience who peacefully trespass on
federal property -- specifically, the military training
facility at Fort Benning formerly known as the School of
He sentenced Franciscan nun Dorothy Hennessey, 88, and
her younger sister, Gwen, 68, who is also a Franciscan
nun, to six months each in federal prison -- the maximum
Since 1990, when Maryknoll priest Roy Bourgeois and a
handful of other protesters showed up at the gates of the
school (recently renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute
for Security Cooperation), it has been targeted by tens
of thousands of demonstrators. Every October, adults,
students and little kids gather at the entrance to Fort
Benning to decry the school's deadly role in Latin
American politics and to demand its closure.
Some of the protesters -- more each year -- "cross the
line" and trespass onto the grounds. Usually, they carry
coffins and name placards that represent the people
who've died at the hands of SOA graduates.
The Hennessey sisters were among several thousand who
crossed the line last October and got arrested. So were
two other nuns from different orders -- Elizabeth Anne
McKenzie from the Sisters of St. Joseph and Miriam
Spencer from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace.
Faircloth slapped them with the maximum six months in
prison, too. McKenzie is 71, Spencer, 75.
Proving that he is an interdenominational kind of guy,
Faircloth also sent a Quaker couple from Ohio -- Bill
Houston, 72, and Hazel Tulecke, 77 -- to federal prison.
Like the nuns, Houston got the max, but Tulecke received
a break: only three months.
Altogether, 26 peaceful trespassers were sentenced by the
judge. Most (21) got the max, but two got off with a few
years probation. One man from Mississippi, Steve Jacobs,
received two 6-month sentences.
Merciful magistrate that he is, Faircloth told Gwen
Hennessey that she didn't have to report to the federal
pen at Pekin, Ill. -- the nearest prison to her order's
Dubuque, Iowa, motherhouse -- until after she celebrates
the 50th anniversary of taking her vows.
He also offered the older Dorothy the option of serving
her sentence under "motherhouse arrest" in Dubuque.
According to the National Catholic Reporter, Sister
Dorothy told the judge, "No thanks" because she is not an
invalid and wanted to be treated the same as her 25 co-
Two of 15 Hennessey siblings, Dorothy and Gwen told the
Reporter that their peaceful civil disobedience was a
kind of activist memorial to their late brother,
Franciscan friar Ron Hennessey. He served for 34 years as
a missionary in Latin America and was friends with
Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. Romero's 1980
assassination was master-minded by graduates of the
School of the Americas.
Like their fellow convicts, the Hennessey sisters said
they weren't looking forward to jail, but they planned to
make the best of it.
Said Dorothy: "If there's time left after we get out we
might want to go into prison ministry."
Just knowing that those two women will be off the street
for six months should really make us all sleep better at
night, don't you think?
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