What calls a cradle Catholic from a quiet mid-western town to become one of God’s most vocal preachers of peace and justice? This Saginaw, Michigan native taught piano and vocals to youngsters for 25 years. She had the ear and expertise to tune pianos. As a child, she accompanied her mother on marketing trips to local farms to pick up eggs and produce for the convent near their home, because in those days nuns didn’t drive, let alone, have cars. Who would have envisioned Jackie Hudson OP, retired from teaching, in the role of justice and peace activist in the third age of her life?
Sister Jackie felt compelled to bear what she called a `new burden of knowledge’ when she learned about the dangers of nuclear radiation and spent the rest of her life working toward nuclear disarmament and the end of war. She prayed ardently and protested publicly to raise awareness about the injustices and human cost of nuclear weapons and warfare. Michigan’s status as a no-nuke zone today can be credited to her voice combined with many others to encourage the Michigan legislature to remove and outlaw nuclear cruise missiles from the state in the 1980s.
Her preaching of truth also led to the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids issuing a public statement in 2007: “We call upon the United States government to lead the way for global abolition of nuclear and all weapons of mass destruction by adopting a plan to lock down, dismantle, reduce, and eliminate nuclear and all weapons of mass destruction. We believe all creation, including Earth itself, to be sacred and we stand in witness to the triumph of life over death, love over hatred, and hope over fear.”
Her conviction that nuclear weapons have no place on God’s green Earth led to a conviction of another variety: imprisonment for protesting at a nuclear missile silo.
She once wrote a reflection in a Dominican Sisters publication: “Will my efforts bring about change in my lifetime,” she said. “Hard to tell; the important thing is that all of us remain faithful.” One thing that close friends and co-activists, Ardeth Platte OP and Carol Gilbert OP, know for sure: Sister Jackie would have been overjoyed at the world’s embrace of the call to end nuclear weapons on Earth. She would have celebrated the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. And, she would have been thrilled to come home to Grand Rapids, to continue preaching to nearly 100 people gathered to listen to Sisters Ardeth and Carol last week during the program “A Yes for Humanity” at Dominican Center at Marywood.
Sister Jacqueline Marie Hudson, OP (formerly Sister Mary Venard) of Poulsbo, WA died August 3, 2011, not long after being released from prison, where she battled cancer and raised awareness about the poor state of healthcare in U.S. prisons.
She was 76 years old and shared her presence and gifts as a Dominican Sister for 58 years of her life. We celebrate and miss you Jackie. And, the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids continue the preaching.