Daniel Berrigan loved Kirkridge

Daniel Berrigan loved Kirkridge


Daniel Berrigan loved Kirkridge.

He loved the windows and the vistas, the way nature called to him to look out. He loved the quiet corners that beckoned him to look in. He loved the joy filled gatherings, yearly traditions and improbable friendships that invited him to look up. He loved the long history– that he was a long part of– He loved the deep regard for scripture, that compelled him to look back.

Daniel Berrigan was loved at Kirkridge, loved on this mountain. He was fed and embraced, inspired and healed here. He was at home here.

As a priest, poet, professor and peace maker, Dan had many homes. He lived an itinerant life- staying at a college for a semester or two, living out of a small bag for months at a time, suffering stints in jail. For decades, he returned from these temporary homes to Apartment 11-L, his home at 220 W. 98th Street as part of a lively and innovative Jesuit and Lay community that lived, prayed and served amongst poor and working people for decades. Those apartments now rent for more than $5,000 a month.

His simple retreat on Block Island, where he sought quiet and fell in love with the Islanders, has been sold, renovated and now rents for thousands of dollars for a week.

Dan and the 98th Street Jesuits moved to Thompson Street in Soho once they lost their last fight with their landlord, and built community amongst the Franciscans of St Anthony’s parish. But that too was temporary.

Although Dan died in 2016, his presence is still felt in many of these places. It is strongly felt on the Mountain! The 98th Street Jesuits– with their Lay friends and fellow travelers– retreated at Nelson Lodge every year for decades. They cooked for one another, celebrated together and found ample time for quiet prayer, reflection and community building far from the city bustle. 

But Dan didn’t just come to Kirkridge to repair and rest.

Dan came to Kirkridge to lead, to motivate and to challenge. Dan offered retreats here– often with his brother and my father Philip Berrigan and my mother Elizabeth McAlister– for decades. These retreats included themes like “Peacemaking as a Biblical Act,” “Daniel on Daniel: A Bible Study,” “Jonah: Prophet Despite Himself,” and “What Part of “Thou Shalt Not Kill” Do We Not Understand?”

Over the years, the friends who came to that retreat weekend formed community, stayed connected and pushed each other into more serious scripture study, deeper Christianity and more presence for peace and justice in the world.

Those retreats filled Kirkridge with an awesome spirit– Pentecostal, really. Dan came ragged or raging, despairing or despondent and left restored, centered and grounded.

He often stayed at Folly, a tiny, standalone apartment at Nelson Lodge. It is equipped with a kitchen and a bathroom and has room for a single person or couple. Built into the ledge of the mountain, Folly faces out and digs in.

In Dan’s name, the Kirkridge Board wants to restore and update Folly, making it more energy efficient and welcoming with a new bathroom, flooring, windows, and furniture. With so many of the places Dan found home now being gone, we hope to have this space honor this history and be a place where his poetic and prophetic voice can continue to prod us today.

Unlike most quarters at Kirkridge, Folly stands alone and slightly apart, making it the perfect place for individuals and couples to come for periods of retreat and restoration, writers to come to be grounded and inspired.

It will take $20,000 to rehab Folly. Will you help us honor Dan by giving generously to Kirkridge?

If we raise more, we will create a peacemaking endowment allowing us to offer Folly free of charge to peacemakers who need it, continue programming that carries on the work of Dan, Phil, and Liz, and create scholarships for activists working on the frontline. We want this work to continue to be at the heart of Kirkridge’s vocation in the world.

Please donate by mailing a check to “Kirkridge Retreat Center” to 2495 Fox Gap Rd, Bangor, PA 18013 or by going online to www.kirkridge.org/give.

With deep gratitude,

Frida Berrigan,

Kirkridge Board Member

A black and white photo of Daniel Berrigan.

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