We said, You’ve got enough bombs in here to destroy Michigan 10 times. My resistance, all the way through, was for nonviolence and to do something for our children so our children will have a world in live in.
Sister Maria Goretti Beckman, recipient of the Pax Christi Michigan’s 2010 Purple Ribbon for Peace award, sits in her Bay City home. Sister Goretti, who received the award by a unanimous vote, is a board member at the Francis Ray Charter School in Saginaw and the Bay Area Women’s Center.
Sister Maria Goretti has been arrested three times in three different states in her pursuit of peace.
The Bay City resident was first arrested for trespassing in the early 1980s, protesting and opposing weapons stockpiling at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda.
“We said, ‘You’ve got enough bombs in here to destroy Michigan 10 times,’” Goretti, 76, said. “My resistance, all the way through, was for nonviolence and to do something for our children so our children will have a world in live in.”
She later was arrested in the late 1980s standing with members of the Shoshone Indian Nation as their land was used for a nuclear test site in Nevada. She also was arrested in the mid-1990s in Washington, D.C., for loitering in front of the White House at a protest against government military spending.
Her actions were conducted as a member of the international Catholic peace organization Pax Christi.
Sister Goretti, who received the award by a unanimous vote, is a board member at the Francis Ray Charter School in Saginaw and the Bay Area Women’s CenterFor her efforts, Goretti received the Pax Christi Michigan 2010 Purple Ribbon for Peace Award on March 27 at the organization’s 29th annual state conference at Mercy High School in Farmington Hills. The organization’s 16-member council voted unanimously to honor Goretti with the award.
“I’m humbled, humbled, extremely humbled,” she said. “It’s a very humbling experience to receive this award, especially when there’s so many pockets of unrest in our country.”
Joan L. Tirak, coordinator of Pax Christi Michigan, said the organization strives to create a world that reflects the peace of Christ.
The recipient of the state peace award encompasses this quality in daily life.
“She’s a strong, prophetic witness to the peace of Christ and has been that all the years I’ve known her,” Tirak said of Goretti. “She has been a member of PCM for several years and has been a leader in Pax Christi Michigan, in her religious community and in the Saginaw area, supporting peace issues.”
The Bay City resident has served as a board member at Francis Reh Public School Academy in Saginaw since 2003. She is a member of the academy’s strategic planning and curriculum committee, assisting teachers in creating a nonviolent environment at school and at home for students.
“To be on a curriculum committee is to make the world a peaceful world for them so that we eradicate fears in any avenue you can use,” Goretti said.
She has also served on the board of the Bay Area Women’s Center in Bay City since 2002 and is involved with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, addressing issues relating to Afghanistan, immigration and nuclear disarmament.
Born Marcella Rose Beckman, Goretti took the name of an Italian saint who was martyred at age 16 in 1951, the same year Goretti became a sister of the Grand Rapids Dominicans.
She later served as a teacher and principal at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 1005 Third in Bay City, and in 1999 was asked by Bishop Kenneth Untener of the Saginaw Diocese to serve as administrator of the church for six months.
She served three terms on the state council of Pax Christi Michigan and has been a member of the organization for more than 30 years, protesting against government military spending, preaching disarmament and supporting other peace issues that took her across the globe.
Photo Credit: Eric Joyce for The Saginaw News
Caption: Sister Maria Goretti Beckman, recipient of the Pax Christi Michigan’s 2010 Purple Ribbon for Peace award, stands on the porch of her Bay City home.