Jesuit Father Jack Morris is 84 years old and can no longer walk. But thirty years ago he led a group that walked across the U.S. as part of the Bethlehem Peace Pilgrimage to raise awareness about the nuclear arms race. Later that year the group flew to Ireland to continue the pilgrimage, ending in Bethlehem.
Now Fr. Morris, who is celebrating his 50th year as a priest, is working on his memoirs in the infirmary at the Jesuit House at Gonzaga University. He sees a country as dedicated to war as ever.
“I think we’re making progress toward doing ourselves in,” Fr. Morris told The Spokesman-Review.
Fr. Morris’ driving question is: “How do we put peace into the center of church thinking?”
“If the church spent as much time on peace issues as it does on birth control and abortion, we could have peace,” he said.
In the 1970s, Fr. Morris became drawn to the peace protesters who had gathered around the Trident nuclear submarine base in Bangor, Wash. He developed the idea of a pilgrimage and found about a dozen others who were willing to give it a try.
The group set off on April 9, 1982, with walkers ranging in age from 20 to 67. They walked about 20 miles a day, slept where they could, ate simple food and gave presentations on peace. They walked to Washington, D.C., and then flew to Ireland to conclude the walk.
They arrived in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, 1983, and everyone who started the pilgrimage finished.
“I was glad we were there and we were done,” Fr. Morris said. “I was tired of walking.”
Read more about Fr. Morris at The Spokesman-Review.