Reporters may contact: Janet Ragland
SMU News and Information
(214) 768-7650


April 25, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- Social activist, poet and Jesuit priest the Rev. Daniel J. Berrigan will receive the 2001 Robert O. Cooper Peace and Justice Fellowship at Southern Methodist University on Sunday, April 29.

The public lecture and ceremony will begin at 7:30 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, third floor of Dallas Hall, 3225 University Blvd., on the SMU campus. A public reception hosted in the Reading Room in the basement of Dallas Hall will begin at 6 p.m. and include a celebration of Berrigan's 81st birthday. SMU'S Office of the Chaplain and University Ministries and the Dallas Peace Center are sponsoring the event.

Active in opposing the Vietnam War, Berrigan gained national attention in 1968 for publicly setting fire to draft registration files in Catonsville, Maryland. He was sentenced in 1970 to three years in prison, but went underground for four months while FBI searched for him. He was caught and imprisoned, gaining parole in 1972 after 18 months.

In 1980, he participated in the first Plowshares Action, a protest of the General Electric Plant at King of Prussia, Penn. He was arrested regularly for his protest actions at weapons manufacturers and other sites from 1980 to 1992. He has written more than 50 books, some with his brother, Phillip Berrigan. A book of poems, Time Without Number (1957), won the Lamont Poetry Award. Other works throughout the decades have focused on the prophets, parables and peace.

"We all have heroes in one area of our life or another and Daniel Berrigan is a long-standing faith-hero of mine," said SMU Chaplain Will Finnin. "For the past 34 years, I have had an oil portrait of Father Berrigan on my office wall. He understands in ways few people of faith have understood, the true costs of Christian discipleship. He daily puts his life 'on the line' for the voiceless, powerless and victimized in our society. It is not only an honor to have him on our campus, but a personal privilege to host his visit."

The Rev. Robert O. Cooper Peace and Justice Fellowship honors SMU's former associate chaplain, who served the university for 27 years, retiring in 1992. Cooper is recognized throughout the Southwest as a leader in peace and justice causes in both ecclesiastical and civic life. The fellowship, established by friends and colleagues, carries a modest monetary stipend.

Former Cooper Fellows include former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Dead Man Walking author Sister Helen Prejean, Sojourners Fellowship founder the Rev. Jim Wallis, international children's advocate Kathy Kelly and Senior U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice.

Also to be awarded at the presentation will be the 2001 William K. McElvaney Student Prize in Peace and Justice. For more information contact the SMU office of the chaplain at (214) 768-4502 or visit the web site at