Midwest Faith & Resistance Retreat Recap

At the 2023 Midwest Faith & Resistance Retreat, Catholic Workers gathered from all over to pray, celebrate, and protest militarism in Madison.

Thanks to all who joined us in Madison, Wisconsin last month for the annual Faith & Resistance CW retreat. While Brenna’s writeup for NCR will give you a felt sense of the weekend, here’s an overdue recap to make it into the F&R archives and for those wishing to hear about the full spectrum of events, or even relive the fun and memories made:


  • On Friday night after folks trickled in, and a kickoff meal courtesy of Alex Tanke of Dispersion Farms, we watched and discussed the movie Theaters of War: How the Pentagon and CIA took Holllywood.


  • On Saturday morning, we awoke to the start of what became a foot of snow! We shoveled on and off through the morning and pushed Fr. Jim Murphy’s car as he graciously plowed a path for more Saturday arrivals. We feasted on an Anathoth Community Farm breakfast courtesy of Mike and Barb, and introduced ourselves and communities in typical Sugar Creek fashion*.
  • Our bellies were fed by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom of Madison, and our minds and hearts fed with our purpose of war abolition and stopping the F-35s in Madison and anywhere else, with a panel discussion from Kathy Kelly, and Vicki Berenson & Steve Klafka of Madison. At this point in the weekend, there were roughly 40-50 Catholic Workers in attendance, and another 30-40 folks from around Madison joining us. 
  • We entered into the spirit of Nonviolent Direct Action with a further panel from Brian Terrell, Malachy Kilbride, and Joy First, who spoke from the experience of putting their own bodies on the line.
  • With food from the Madison community at Holy Wisdom Monastery, the under 50s gathered in roundtable fashion to discuss the Golden Girls, the enneagram, astrology and signs of the times, and the age divide within the CW movement regarding war abolition, anti-racism work, and more. This is not an exhaustive list.
  • Open mic night – hosted by Steve Jacobs, featuring song, sing-along, saxophone, spoken word, and the epic tale of Frank Cordaro’s encounter with the President and some sweaty ashes.


  • On Sunday morning, we held a War Abolition walk between our home for the weekend, Madison Christian Community, and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, a mile down the road. We were fed by STA’s Peace & Justice working group, and joined the parish for their 10 AM mass, where our commitment to nonviolence was supported and encouraged. This was a big deal to the Madison crew, to be welcomed and supported by the Catholic Church, so a huge thank you to you all for your presence and community.
  • After mass, Eric Anglada and Sr. Mo McDonnell lead an outdoor Wild Church at a nature preserve down the road, celebrating spring, new life, and meditating on the words of Wendell Berry.
  • Lunch again by STA, and a panel, open to the public, featuring Code Pink Coordinator & National Co-Director Danaka Katovich, and Brian Terrell.
  • Back at Madison Christian Community, we began the work of planning Monday’s actions in affinity groups. Thanks to Brian, Joy, and Malachy for facilitating, and Victor for legal briefing.
  • Supper provided by St. Isidore CWF, and lots of weekend food provided by the Quakers of Friends Meeting House of Madison – thank you!


  • Before dawn, we gathered at the gates of Truax Field Air National Guard Base. We successfully blocked the entrance during the 6:00 AM shift change as we said NO to war, and NO to the F-35s in Madison or anywhere else. There were some tense encounters with Truax folks who wanted to get to work, and the police who were also present. Thankfully, no one was injured. No arrests were made, and to our knowledge, no citations were issued (either to us or the drivers of vehicles trying to get into the base).
  • Later that morning at the state capitol, we gathered in front of the Governor’s office where we sang, where several people physically blocked the entrance, and where we gave witness to the opposition of our government’s support of endless war and militarism. While threatened with arrest, no arrests were made or citations issued at the Capitol. We sang, had a jovial time, and joined our voices with the Raging Grannies asking the Governor to come out, to meet with us, and to change the mission of Truax ANG to a peaceful one, which no longer requires the F-35 or any fighter jets.
  • Folks stopped by St. John’s Lutheran several blocks from the capitol for some food and goodbyes before heading out.

Some media coverage:

Code Pink, Channel 3000, Wisconsin Radio Network, WKOW, and NCR.

We are grateful to have gathered with you all for an end to war, militarism, and the F-35.

Thanks and peace from the Madison Catholic Worker and the Great Turning Catholic Worker Farm

Andrea & Justin Novotney, Janet Parker, Sr. Mo McDonnell, and Tom Boswell

See also: Catholic Workers gather in Madison to protest new F-35 fighter jets | National Catholic Reporter (ncronline.org)

The cover photo is courtesy of Theo Kayser.

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