Greetings from Mary House!!
Many months have passed since we last wrote to you, and Mary House has had a sunny and busy summer. In June we celebrated our 25th year here, and are grateful to all of the wonderful volunteers, supporters and guests who have graced our doors in the last quarter century!!
In a real highlight of the season I said good-by earlier this month to one family who’s become dear to me over their many visits – the inmate they’ve been visiting was finally released to a halfway house and was able to travel home with his family.
We’ve had guests from Iowa, Michigan, Washington State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and a few points in between this summer as families take advantage of school vacations to travel and visit inmates, and all your donations of fans, soap, cereal and lawn mowers have been much appreciated! Special thanks to friends from Madison who spent time searching for kitchen chairs and twin-sized headboards for us during the big student move days in Madison and gifted us with a beautiful collection – we now have a table surrounded by sturdy chairs, and our beds are looking smarter too!
Celebrating 25 years of work days
Friends form the Madison Mennonite Church have been coming to help out at Mary House for nearly all of our 25 years, and this summer was no exception. Faith Bauman, inspecting the foundation above, has spent much of her life working in India and now lives in Madison Wisconsin. She has been part of the group on many of their summertime monthly visits wrote the following reflection on their last visit.
“Sometimes there is a certain amount of fun, even while working, with others in a group, even while we scrape and bruise our hands and end up with aching arms and shoulders!
That was our experience at Mary House as all seven of us along with Cassandra did volunteer jobs around the house on July 5th. We volunteers are from the Madison Mennonite Church, which has sponsored monthly work days during the summer at Mary House for over 20 years!
Two of our volunteers were young women from Taiwan, who are boarding with Mark and Janice Bauman for a few months while taking studies in language. Some of the volunteers lined up in a straight line digging a very deep trench next to the outside wall so they could place concrete there to prevent animals from making a home under the porch. One volunteer cleared out numerous fern leaves and weeds that were leaning over the sidewalk to the front door. After a good hearty lunch we all returned to Madison, happy to have met a need, and thanking God for this opportunity to serve.” --Faith Bauman
Members of the Ebenezer Reformed Church traveled to Mary House from Oregon Illinois this summer to do an amazing amount of work in one week!
They were joined this year by members of the Presbyterian Church in Wisconsin Dells, and together they accomplished an awesome amount in a week. They removed some terrible old concrete, making the front yard easier to mow and clearing the way for a front deck.
They repaired siding, helped clear up the debris left over from having a well drilled last year, moved and stacked firewood, installed a ceiling in the back porch, cleaned guest rooms, repaired screens, made beds, fixed playground equipment, cut down a huge dead tree – you name it, they did it!
We’re very grateful for all their help hope they’ll return next year. This group of dedicated volunteers have traveled to work projects in Mexico and a half-dozen states, and we’re so lucky and grateful they chose to spend a week of summer in Wisconsin!
Speaking Truth to Power: Citizens shine a light on training for Drone Warfare in Wisconsin.
On May 17, Jim Murphy, a longtime friend of Mary House, and Bonnie Block of Madison, entered Volk Field legally on a tour bus provided by the military during an open house event. Once on the base, they began distributing flyers critical of the military’s use of drones. When they declined to leave immediately, Juneau County sheriff’s deputies handcuffed the two and booked them at the Mauston jail. Jim was found guilty of trespass and sentenced to a fine. Bonnie's trial is scheduled for January 15, 2015 at 8:30 am in the Mauston , WI courthouse.
Each month, the members and friends of the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the War gather at Volk Field to protest the almost 4,000 people who have been killed in U.S. drone attacks. The Wisconsin National Guard has tested the RQ-7B Shadow drone at Volk Field since 2011 where it currently operates a $4.5 million drone training facility. Although the Shadow System was designed for surveillance, a fleet update program begun in 2010 extends the use of these drones, enabling them to carry munitions. The improvements include installing the wiring harnesses and software updates for IAI's POP300D payload which includes a designator for guiding laser-guided bombs, and newly designed wings will include hardpoints for external munitions. For information on schedule and carpooling for the monthly vigil contact Joy at 608 239-4327, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Obama administration’s embrace of targeted killings using armed drones risks putting the United States on a “slippery slope” into perpetual war and sets a dangerous precedent for lethal operations that other countries might adopt in the future, according to a report issued June 26 by a bipartisan panel that includes a number of former Pentagon and C.I.A. officials and is jointly led by retired General John P. Abizaid, the former head of United States Central Command, and Rosa Brooks, a fellow at the New America Foundation and a law professor at Georgetown University. (view full report at http://nyti.ms/1lr1sre )
The group found that more than a decade into the era of armed drones, the American government has yet to carry out a thorough analysis of whether the “costs of routine secret killing operations outweigh the benefits”. The report urges the administration to conduct such an analysis and to give a public accounting of both militants and civilians killed in drone strikes.
The warns that other countries might adopt the same rationale as the United States has for carrying out lethal strikes outside of declared war zones. Using an example of a current crisis, it said that Russia could use armed drones in Ukraine under the justification that it was killing anti-Russian terrorists and then refuse to disclose the intelligence that served as the basis for the strike.
“In such circumstances,” the report asked, “how could the United States credibly condemn Russian targeted killings?”
John Kinsman and Joe Gump, Presente!
Mary House lost two dear and long-time friends this spring and summer.
Organic dairy farmer and lifelong social-justice activist John Kinsman passed away January 20 on his family farm near Lime Ridge, Wisconsin. He was 87.
John and his family were among the first friends we had when Mary House opened its doors, and their generosity, support and friendship helped us survive the early days here when our neighbors weren’t so sure they wanted a Catholic Worker house serving the families of prisoners for a neighbor. During our first winter John and his son came to our rescue more than once. When 20 degree below zero nights broke not only pipes but also our pump, the two of them spent hours in a frozen hole in the ground, and got us through a real crisis.
An organic farmer and founder and of Family Farm Defenders, John touched the lives of thousands of people, worldwide, working tirelessly for decades as a grassroots proponent of organic sustainable agriculture and a globetrotting advocate of food sovereignty. As one of the farmer leaders involved in Via Campesina, the largest umbrella organization for farmers, fishers, foresters, hunters, gatherers, and indigenous peoples in the world, John traveled extensively around the world to share the message of food sovereignty.
John Glenn Kinsman is survived by his wife of 64 years, Jean, their 10 children, and 38 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren, and 2 great-great-grandchildren.
Longtime peace activist Joe Gump 86, died of congestive heart failure on Saturday, March 8, at his home in Bloomingdale, Michigan. Joe’s encouragement played a major part in the opening of Mary House. His experience in the federal prison system, his first-hand understanding of the challenges facing inmate families, and his strong and loving understanding of Catholic social teaching all combine to make him a source of encouragement and inspiration throughout the formation of Mary House as a Catholic Worker house in the late l980’s. I can so clearly remember sitting with him in the visiting room at Sandstone Federal Correctional institution and hearing him tell me not to worry about how we would support the house. It was needed, he said. Just do it and it will work out.
It was while sitting in a Missouri federal courtroom watching his wife Jean refusing to pay $424.47 in restitution to reduce an 11-year sentence for damaging a nuclear missile silo that Joe Gump decided that he, too, would take what he liked to refer to as a "retirement" in prison. In August 1987, 16 months after Jean was arrested at a nuclear missile silo in Holden, Mo., Joe Gump and Jerry Ebner broke into a K-9 missile silo near Butler, Mo. Calling themselves "Transfiguration Plowshares” in honor of the feast of the Transfiguration, when Jesus' divinity was revealed to his disciples, the two cut the chain-link fence and poured blood in the shape of a cross on the concrete silo, snipped the cables to the alarm system, smashed the electrical outlets and took a sledgehammer to the geared tracks. Jean Gump was released from prison in 1990, after 4½ years of incarceration. In the 24 years since, Joe and Jean took part in antiwar protests at places including the Oak Ridge Nuclear Enrichment Facility in Tennessee. They traveled to Iraq in the early 1990s after the first Gulf War to bring medical supplies to the children affected by the war. The couple were profiled in Studs Terkel's 1988 book "Great Divide.
Joe is survived by his amazing wife Jean Gump, three sons, William, Andrew and Joseph Gump; six other daughters, Katherine Lage, Christine Perlin Gump, Holly Gump, Marthe Murray, Margaret Gump and Nancy Charlesworth; a brother, Raymond; a sister, Kathleen Johnson; 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.