Ardeth Platte, Dominican nun dedicated to no-nukes cause, dies at 84

photo by Felice Cohen-Joppa

Sr. Ardeth Platte, O.P., Presente!

April 10, 1936 – September 30, 2020
Nuclear resister, Plowshares activist, Dominican sister
With Sr. Carol Gilbert, O.P., long time member of the Jonah House community in Baltimore, and then of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, D.C.
We had been in touch with Ardeth and Carol in recent weeks to discuss and plan and brainstorm what we can do across the country after the 50th nation ratifies the nuclear ban treaty, and it enters into force 90 days later – something she had worked so hard for. 
With deep gratitude for the gift of her life, and for her encouragement and support and friendship over many years… Rest in power, Ardeth. In your memory – and with your energy and commitment! – we will continue to work for a nuclear-free world. 

(Read more here.)
Felice and Jack

Ardeth in Washington, D.C. on September 26, participating in Cries from Every Corner to mark the U.N. International Day to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

from Religion News Service

Ardeth Platte, Dominican nun dedicated to no-nukes cause, dies at 84

by Patrick O’Neill

(RNS) — Sister Ardeth Platte, a Dominican order nun who fought for nuclear disarmament and later served as an inspiration for a character on the popular Netflix show “Orange Is the New Black,” died in her sleep at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday (Sept. 30).

Platte, 84, who often worked in tandem with her best friend and frequent collaborator, Sister Carol Gilbert, spent years in prison for nonviolent civil disobedience in opposition to nuclear weapons and war.
It was Gilbert who discovered Platte on Wednesday morning. She had apparently been listening to the radio, as she was still wearing headphones when Gilbert found her. Gilbert said Platte had listened to the presidential debate Tuesday night.
In recent years, the duo spent the brunt of their work speaking in support of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Gilbert said she had been excited Wednesday morning at the prospect of telling Platte that Malaysia had become the 46th nation to ratify the treaty.
Malaysia’s decision means just four additional ratifications are needed for the landmark disarmament treaty to be brought into force, Gilbert said.
Gilbert said Platte did her final Zoom presentation in support of the treaty on Saturday to the Boston University School of Theology.
“I’m numb,” Gilbert said in a telephone interview. “She was fine yesterday. We did work. I guess you just don’t think death can come that quickly.”

Platte was born in Lansing, Michigan, and began her work for the Dominicans as a teacher. In the 1960s and ’70s, she served as principal and director of alternative education at the former St. Joseph’s Educational Center in Saginaw, Michigan. Her work as an educator impressed many in the community, and Platte was urged to run for the Saginaw City Council. She won, serving as councilwoman from 1973-1985. 

She also served as coordinator of Saginaw’s Home for Peace and Justice for more than a decade.
It was in Michigan that Platte began her anti-nuclear work, and where Gilbert joined her. Later, the pair moved to Baltimore to join the Jonah House resistance community with Elizabeth McAlister and Philip Berrigan. 
In 2002, Platte, Gilbert and Sister Jackie Hudson gained international attention when they dressed as weapons inspectors, entered and were arrested at a Minuteman III nuclear missile site in Colorado. Convicted of federal felony charges, the three nuns were sentenced to prison. Hudson died in 2011.
When Platte and Gilbert returned to Colorado in 2017 for a rally, a story in The Denver Post stated: “In the years since they served their sentences in federal prison, the Dominican sisters, hardly deterred by the threat of future incarceration, have become pop culture icons.”
A character on the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” was based on Platte, who practiced yoga at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution with Piper Kerman, author of the book on which the series about a group of women serving time in a minimum-security women’s prison is based.
A documentary film about the sisters, called “Conviction,” led to stories about the trio being published in The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Washington Post, as well as some international publications.
In recent months, Platte and Gilbert joined actress Jane Fonda for large protests at the White House.
Gilbert, who called 911 when she realized Platte had died, said the Catholic Worker house was soon crawling with D.C. police.
“I wanted to tell Ardeth that even in death you have to make a scene, made our bedroom here into a crime scene.”
In an email announcement of Platte’s sudden death sent to many of her friends, Catholic activist Paul Magno of Jonah House wrote: “Deep shock to hear this but grateful for all that Ardeth has given to making the peace of Christ radiate through our world.”
In 2017, Platte told The Denver Post: “I refuse to have an enemy. I simply won’t.”

from Susan Crane: Ardeth Platte, OP Presente! Our dear friend, resister, comrade, mentor went home to God last night. Ban Nuclear Weapons was her cry, whether at the Pentagon, on the streets in the U.S., or in Germany at the Büchel Air Base where 20 nuclear warheads are deployed. Here at Büchel, Sr. Ardeth is talking to the Commander of the base, and is handing him a copy of the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Photo by Marion Küpker.

from the Dominican Sisters, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Sister Ardeth Platte OP Will Be Remembered as a Prophet of Peace

by Stacy Spitler
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – September 30, 2020 – Ardeth Platte, OP: justice preacher, peace seeker, teacher, compassionate neighbor and friend stood with people on the margins—God’s people—and helped to lift up their cries again and again, each and every day. As the sun rose this morning, we discovered that God called home our prophet of peace.
Sister Ardeth died in her sleep in the early morning hours of September 30, 2020.
Today, we remember and are grateful for her 66 years as a Dominican Sister of Grand Rapids, and we grieve as we prepare for a farewell, unexpected in our time. We hold Sr. Ardeth’s family and friends, her religious community, local community, and the global community in which she served in our hearts and prayers. May she rest in the loving embrace of our God.  
Sr. Ardeth carried the burdens of the world willingly, preaching love, peace, and human dignity always. She stood for restorative justice and rehabilitation against a broken criminal justice system, even if it meant being imprisoned herself. Her commitment to universal human rights meant living her life fully dedicated to peace and the abolishment of nuclear weapons. She reminded us that hunger is a real and present danger in the United States of America; and she did something about it: sowing and harvesting a garden and offering God’s bounty to neighbors.
She was born on Good Friday, April 10, 1936 in Lansing, Michigan and grew up in Westphalia, Michigan, graduating from St. Mary’s High School in Westphalia in 1953 as its valedictorian. She entered the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids in 1954, at the age of 18; and ministered as a Sister for 66 years. 
She studied at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and received her teaching degree. She began teaching, and in the late 1960s, in addition to being principal of St. Joseph High School in Saginaw, she founded the St. Joseph Alternative Night School for youth and adults wishing to complete their high school education. 
Dominican Sister Carol Gilbert, OP, journeyed with Sr. Ardeth in this nearly 40-year ministry for peace. In the 1980s, they worked with a coalition to place an initiative on the Michigan State Ballot to disallow nuclear weapons from being deployed in Michigan in preservation of freshwater lakes and soil. It passed by 56 percent of the vote. However, the federal government superseded the state law and brought hundreds of nuclear cruise missiles and squadrons of B-52s onto two Strategic Air Force Bases, in Oscoda and in Quinn/Marquette. Sr. Ardeth began full time organizing to witness at these bases, to call for nonviolent symbolic actions to eliminate these hundreds of weapons. Both bases were closed within the next twelve years after hundreds of persons, including Sr. Ardeth, were arrested, called before the courts for civil resistance, and even jailed.
Her activism for peace led her to represent the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and she with Sr. Carol joined the organization at the United Nations in 2017. ICAN received the Nobel Peace Prize for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.
Highly respected nationally and internationally for her grasp of the complexity of the military-industrial complex, her articulation of the injustices perpetrated on people who are poor, and her perseverance in the pursuit of justice and peace, she remained a humble, gentle, and generous soul who was loved and admired by all who knew her.
In 1995, Platte moved to Jonah House in Baltimore, Maryland, where she took part in Plowshares actions. She became part of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker community in Washington, DC in 2018 to live and minister, continuing to raise awareness about the use of nuclear weapons and the humanitarian and environmental impact such weapons have on the world and its citizens.
Sr. Ardeth will be cremated. The challenges of traveling at this time means the funeral and burial will be held at a later date in Grand Rapids. Her obituary is pending and will be posted on
More information about her life can be found at

Ardeth (on crutches) was arrested on July 5, 2010 at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex in TN. She spent two months in jail for that action. Pictured here with Sr. Jackie Hudson (RIP), Sr. Carol Gilbert, Bonnie Urfer and Jean Gump (RIP). Photo by Felice Cohen-Joppa.

Pax Christi USA gives thanks for the life and witness of Sr. Ardeth Platte: Rest in power!

…Pax Christi USA received word that Plowshares activist and nuclear disarmament advocate Sr. Ardeth Platte passed away in her sleep at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Washington, D.C.

Pax Christi USA’s statement on the passing of Sr. Ardeth Platte:

Today we mourn the passing of Ardeth Platte—a Dominican Sister, a loyal friend, a healer of historical wounds, a peace companion and a faithful follower of the Gospel. Ardeth was the Peace of Christ in our midst and “shocked the conscience” of many (including many religious congregations) by taking a bold stand against weapons of mass destruction which often landed her behind bars. She stood on the side of truth and justice and reminded each of us of our moral responsibility to advocate for the elimination of nuclear weapons. May we join with Ardeth in her sacred pilgrimage and continue her life’s work for a more just and nuclear free world through nonviolent action. May we also learn from her example to love, reverence and care for the oppressed and the oppressor with the utmost tenderness. Ardeth, you may not be physically present among us, but you will always dwell in our midst. Ardeth Platte, Presente


October 2019, with Kathy Boylan and others who were delivering the global petition in support of the Kings Bay Plowshares to William Barr outside the Department of Justice. Photo by Paki Wieland.

from The Gazette

Catholic nun who smeared her blood on nuclear missile silo in Colorado has died
by Debbie Kelley

A Catholic Dominican nun well-known in Colorado for smearing her blood on Air Force fighter planes and nuclear missile silos in anti-war protests, and who inspired one of the characters in the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black,” has died.

Sister Ardeth Platte, 84, passed away in her sleep Tuesday night at her home, the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House, in Washington, D.C., said Bill Sulzman, founder of Colorado Springs-based Citizens for Peace in Space.

“It was very sudden,” he said. “She was such a leader.”

Platte and two other nuns in the Dominican religious congregation, Sister Carol Gilbert and the late Sister Jackie Hudson, spent nearly half a century as peace activists, using civil disobedience to resist the buildup of nuclear weapons and call for disarmament.

“It’s a long career of activism that is admirable and inspiring,” Sulzman said. “I and the people of Colorado owe her a tremendous debt to the awareness she brought about the deployment of nuclear weapons in our state and our state’s role, and why we should pay attention to that.”

Platte’s presence in Colorado began with a demonstration at Peterson Air Force Base 20 years ago, when the trio of nuns made headlines after they were arrested for spraying their blood on a fighter plane. The charges were dropped.

They were arrested again in 2002 after cutting a chain-link fence to enter a nuclear missile site in northeastern Colorado, which at the time ranked as one of the top 10 nuclear powerhouses in the world because of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles that were buried underground.

The nuns prayed and poured their blood in the shape of a cross on a Minuteman III missile silo.

They served 41 months in a federal correctional facility in Danbury, Conn., at the same time as television personality Martha Stewart and Piper Kerman, who wrote “Orange is the New Black,” which became a Netflix series with Platte depicted as one of the characters.

“We did yoga together,” Platte said in March, when she was last in Colorado Springs, of her incarceration with the celebrities.

The nuns returned often to Colorado and Colorado Springs, with their appearances sponsored by Sulzman’s organization and the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission.

Hudson died in 2011, and in recent years, Platte and Gilbert worked on garnering support for the United Nations’ Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was passed in 2017 but must be ratified in order to ban everything from possession to transfer of nuclear weapons.

They traveled the nation to promote the treaty, including delivering a copy to Peterson Air Force Base in 2017. They also appeared at U.N. meetings multiple times. The treaty has yet to be ratified.

Platte and Gilbert talked to University of Colorado at Colorado Springs students and members of a local church when they were in here in March,  before the cornavirus pandemic hit.

Platte wore a sweatshirt that said, “I’m Already Against the Next War,” as she and Gilbert spoke about the importance of nuclear disarmament. They also were featured at events in Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins and Canon City.

Their message had broadened to encompass climate change and fossil-fuel divestment in their drive to “save the planet for future generations.”

Sulzman said Platte’s unexpected death is “a reminder to keep working on nuclear disarmament” because the issue “has not gone away.”


Remembering Sister Ardeth Platte, a prophet of peace in a culture of aggression

November 2017, Sr. Carol Gilbert and Sr. Ardeth Platte at Fr. Jerry Zawada, OFM’s memorial service in Tucson, leading us in the chorus of Sacred Creation – “Sacred the land, sacred the water, sacred the sky, holy and true, sacred all life, sacred each other, all reflect God who is good.” Photo by Felice Cohen-Joppa.