Fr. Bill “Bix” Bichsel, S.J. – Presente!

photo by Felice Cohen-Joppa

photo by Felice Cohen-Joppa

Knowing that his life was drawing to an end, seventy friends of nuclear resister Fr. Bill “Bix” Bichsel sang one of his favorite songs at the beginning of the Pacific Life Community gathering in California on Friday evening. “Your face will shine through all our tears…. And when we sing another little victory song, precious friend you will be there.” He passed from this world less than 24 hours later, on Saturday evening, February 28. His life was a gift to many. Rest in peace, dear friend.

The Rev. Bill Bichsel, longtime weapons protester and Tacoma-born priest, dead at 86

by Steve Maynard

from The News Tribune

For nearly 40 years, the Rev. Bill Bichsel protested against U.S. military programs and weapons, resulting in dozens of arrests and making the Jesuit priest one of the most visible and admired protesters in the Pacific Northwest.

But to most folks, he was a Tacoma-born priest simply known as “Bix.”

Bichsel, who had a history of heart problems, died Saturday evening. He’d been in a coma recently and died peacefully in hospice care, surrounded by friends and family who were holding vigil at the Catholic community home where he lived. He was 86.

Bichsel devoted decades to his pursuit of peace, at home and abroad.

He protested Trident submarines and nuclear missiles at the Navy’s Bangor submarine base.

He chained himself to the doors of the federal courthouse in Tacoma after the U.S invasion of Iraq. And he repeatedly protested at the Army’s School of the Americas in Georgia, alleging that it trained Latin American soldiers involved in human rights abuses.

In 1988, Bichsel shouted down then-Vice President George H.W. Bush in Seattle to draw attention to the homeless.

The priest was arrested dozens of times for trespassing during protests. He was convicted and incarcerated more than a half-dozen times, spending about 21/2 years total in jails and prisons.

More quietly, he also helped feed and shelter homeless people in his hometown. Bichsel was part of the Tacoma Catholic Worker community he co-founded in 1989.

When asked during a recent interview if he had any regrets, Bichsel said he wished he had done more.

“I wish I had been more conscious of the call to peace and nonviolence” earlier in life, Bichsel told The News Tribune in August.

He urged people to recognize “the divine works in all people and to trust their calls to reach out to others, to be more human.” That includes “resisting those forces that deprive us of life,” such as the “production and maintenance of nuclear weapons,” he said.

Bichsel said a cardiologist told him in 2011 he had one year to live. He had two open-heart surgeries and declined to undergo a third to repair leaking heart valves.

“I feel like I’m on a gravy train,” Bichsel said. “It could have happened a lot earlier.”

Bichsel said he didn’t think much about what happens after death.

“No. 1, I don’t know.”

But he added:

“I just believe in some way or another we become taken to God and we become part of the universal cloud of witnesses” to peace, Bichsel said.

He said he hopes his work for peace had been an encouragement and inspiration for others.

Civil resistance

Bichsel called his protests civil resistance — not civil disobedience — because he didn’t believe he was breaking the law. He said he was upholding international laws, such as the Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal, which prohibit war crimes and crimes against peace and humanity.

“I never got the sense that I am a lawbreaker or that I am a criminal,” Bichsel said in an interview in 2008. “I am an enforcer of the law.”

His protests and other actions made him a lightning rod for praise and criticism. Even some supporters said Bischel went too far when he trespassed and broke the law.

In 2009, Bichsel took another step that proved to be controversial.

He helped lead a group that traveled to Japan to ask forgiveness for the destruction caused by the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The so-called “Journey of Repentance” sparked an outcry from those who said it ignored the attack on Pearl Harbor and atrocities committed by the Japanese military during World War II.

Born in Tacoma in 1928, William Jerome Bichsel was the son of a national union leader for Northern Pacific locomotive engineers.

Bichsel was still a teenager when he started the process of becoming a priest, and for three decades he followed a fairly traditional path as a student, pastor, teacher and academic.

His commitment to civil disobedience grew over time, from taking part in Vietnam War protests while studying in Boston to his first protest and arrest at Bangor in 1976.

In 1979, he moved to Guadalupe House in Tacoma to shelter homeless people.

Hundreds of supporters

His only income came from stipends he received for celebrating Mass as a fill-in priest at local parishes and presiding at weddings and funerals.

But he amassed hundreds of supporters.

In 2008, at least 300 people showed up for his 80th birthday party at Holy Cross Community Hall in Tacoma.

Longtime close friend Joe Power-Drutis remembered Bichsel as a prophet who cared for others.

“Bix’s civil resistance has had little direct impact on our military industrial complex or the general consciousness of our nation regarding nuclear weapons, war, or other violence,” said Power-Drutis, a Tacoma resident who knew Bichsel for 45 years.

“He is more a prophet than a political change agent,” he said.

Bichsel’s belief in caring for each person as family was rooted in the example set by his mother and her care for family and community, especially during the Great Depression, Power-Drutis said.

Despite his outward affection for people, Bichsel sometimes struggled “with deep loneliness and insecurity,” Power-Drutis said. He used that interior pain to build empathy and warmth for others, Power-Drutis said.

Even many people who disagreed with Bichsel’s politics had warm feelings for him.

Jack Donaldson of Tacoma was on the opposite end of the disarmament debate, but Bichsel wouldn’t get angry with him; he would playfully jam his fist in his friend’s chest.

“If you knew Bix at all, he could be a very funny guy; he would laugh easily,” said Donaldson, who hosted parties years ago attended by young priest Bichsel. “He walked the walk. Not that everyone agreed with him — I certainly didn’t — but he was a personality. He was always cheerful.”

By his own count, Bichsel estimated he’d been arrested some 45 times. Most charges were dismissed, Bichsel said in 2008, because judges didn’t want to take up court time or give the protesters publicity.

Bichsel’s last arrest came in July 2010 for trespassing in protest at a plutonium processing plant near Knoxville, Tennessee. He served a three-month prison sentence.

In 2011, Bichsel expressed no regrets when he and four other war protesters were given prison sentences by a federal judge in Tacoma for breaking into the Bangor Navy base in 2009 to protest nuclear weapons kept there.

They were convicted of using bolt cutters to cut through three chain-link fences to enter an area where nuclear warheads were stored on the base about 40 miles northwest of Tacoma.

“I’m so glad for the action we took,” Bichsel said at the sentencing in Tacoma. “I think the only law that we tried to carry in our own hands is God’s law.”

U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle called the protesters’ actions a “form of anarchy” that, left unchecked, would lead to a breakdown in society. Settle sentenced Bichsel to three months in prison and six months of home detention.

Settle also praised Bichsel for caring for the needs of others in the community.

“It’s not easy to sit in judgment of people who have lived such sacrificial lives,” Settle said.

Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647 @TNTstevemaynard Staff writer Matt Misterek contributed to this report.


Bix arrested at Y-12 nuclear weapons complex, July 5, 2010.  Photo by Felice Cohen-Joppa

Bix arrested at Y-12 nuclear weapons complex, July 5, 2010. Photo by Felice Cohen-Joppa

Longtime peace activist Jesuit Fr. Bill Bichsel dies at age 86

by Dan Morris-Young

from the National Catholic Reporter

Jesuit Fr. William Bichsel was given six months to live in 2009 because of his failing heart. Not only did he prove doctors wrong, he continued his more-than-four-decade crusade against what he called “ongoing, unabated works of war” and “forces of militarism.”

That included mustering enough strength to take part in a “nonviolent peace action” at Naval Base Kitsap, a naval submarine base on the Hood Canal near Bangor, Wash., about six weeks ago.

Bix, as the 86-year-old priest was called by nearly all who knew him, died Feb. 28 “in the presence of the loving community” at Jean’s House of Prayer in the Tacoma, Wash., Catholic Worker, which he co-founded in 1989 and where he lived for the last several years of his life, according to friend and colleague Leonard Eiger of the Ground Zero Center For Nonviolent Action.

Bichsel “has been the voice of a prophet in the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus,” Jesuit Fr. Scott Santarosa, provincial, wrote in an email to NCR. “He has fearlessly proclaimed a message of peace and worked tirelessly for the poor and the least in our society. His stances have led him to request permission of his superiors in the Society to lead protests, to cross lines, to commit non-violent actions that led to his imprisonment. In the name of Christ, the Prince of Peace, he willingly suffered the consequences of his actions. My predecessors as provincial have always supported him in his goal to raise our world’s awareness of the evils of nuclear weapons and the devastation caused by the many wars that the United States and other nations have been involved in in the past 50 years. His voice for peace and the poor may now be silenced but his message is resurrected in the lives of others who follow in his footsteps.”

“I know it sounds idealistic, but I do feel very strongly in the Resurrection and how we can act together,” Bichsel told NCR in a December interview following his return from South Korea, where took part in the ongoing resistance against construction of a naval base on Jeju Island. It was his second trip there.

“I believe strongly in my heart in the power of God and the power of creation and the Resurrection. They are much stronger than the powers of death,” he said.

A 7 p.m. vigil rosary has been scheduled for March 13 at St. Leo Church in Tacoma. Earlier in the day, a peace walk through Tacoma ending with a vigil at the federal courthouse will be held, Eiger said.

Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. March 14 at the parish. Date and time of inurement at Mount St. Michael’s Columbarium in Spokane had not been set as of Tuesday.

A memorial service will be celebrated March 12 at the main gate of the Bangor submarine base in Silverdale. Jesuit Fr. Steve Kelly will preside.

Born May 26, 1928, Bichsel entered the Society of Jesus on Aug. 14, 1946. He was ordained June 29, 1959, and took final vows on Aug. 15, 1962.

His assignments included Gonzaga University dean of students, 1963-66; religion teacher at Seattle Preparatory School, 1968-69; assistant pastor at St. Leo in Tacoma, 1969-76; community organizing in Seattle, 1977-79; working with the mentally ill in Tacoma, 1979-87; part-time chaplain at Western State Mental Hospital in Tacoma, 1987-99; Catholic Worker community in Tacoma, 1989-99; and pastoral minister of the Catholic Worker community in Tacoma, 2000 until his death.

Over the years, Bichsel was arrested more than 40 times and spent nearly two and a half years in prison.

One year of that was in federal custody for his part in the School of the Americas protests in Georgia. The facility has long been accused of training Latin American military who have taken part in human rights abuse.

He was incarcerated for three months for breaching security at the nuclear submarine base. In 2011, he was sentenced to another three months in a federal jail near Seattle for trespassing at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Part of the latter sentence was served in solitary confinement.

Jesuit Fr. John Whitney, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Seattle, recalled being with Bichsel when Vice President George H.W. Bush spoke at Seattle University in 1988.

Bischel shouted, “What about the poor?” at Bush a number of times, Whitney said.

“Bush responded by turning to the audience and saying, ‘Boy, you get all kinds of nuts around here, don’t you?’ I am not one who finds yelling out questions to be my thing, but Bush’s response was so patronizing and arrogant toward a Jesuit whose methods were not mine but whose point was certainly reasonable that I got peeved. At which point, I stood up and yelled, ‘Why don’t you answer the question?’ Repeatedly. I was removed by our security people, and Bix, as was his desire, was arrested.”

When Whitney became Bichsel’s provincial, “I really had the chance to come to know him. He was a man of great purpose and call, but he was also a very good Jesuit. I remember asking him not to be arrested at one point, and he was obedient to that.”

Whitney and Bichsel also shared “marching together at Bangor.”

Bix dancing before the start of the Transform Now Plowshares trial in Knoxville, May 2013.  Photo by Felice Cohen-Joppa

Bix dancing before the start of the Transform Now Plowshares trial in Knoxville, May 2013. Photo by Felice Cohen-Joppa

“He decided he needed to cross the line,” Whitney said. “I was concerned because he had already spent time in prison and I didn’t want him sent back. His health was already risky. We stood together — Bill, myself, and Fr. Pat Twohy — and we discerned, on the scene, where we thought God was. Each of us prayed and spoke our hearts, and Bill listened, and I as provincial listened. Finally, he said what his desire was and accepted the mission to cross the line — accepted it as a mission. He was always, most deeply, a Jesuit on mission — and he took that to heart.”

St. Leo pastor Jesuit Fr. Steve Lantry described how during a “faith sharing” event, “Bix talked about his work for peace and against nuclear arms. When one of us said … peace work seemed to have been pushed onto the back burner, Bix said, ‘I don’t think it’s even on the stove anymore!’ Even he laughed, but we could tell that in spite of the support and fellowship he experienced with the Plowshares and Ground Zero folks, he felt ‘alone’ in the peace work — although he never said that. In that, as in all things, Bix was unfailingly joyful, always chuckling, laughing and smiling. He was a genuine Christian, a true disciple of Jesus — one of a kind. When comes such another?”

Well-known pacifist Fr. John Dear called Bischel “one of the greatest people I’ve ever known.”

“He was not just a great priest, but a rare Christian, a true peacemaker. He lived among the poor and served them, spoke out against war and nuclear weapons, and suffered imprisonment and rejection, but he did it all with a smile and a spirit of nonviolent, loving kindness,” Dear said. “That combination made him a living saint in our midst. He showed us how to be Gospel peacemakers. The best way to honor him is to carry on his life mission, to do what we can, as he did, for the abolition of abolish war, poverty, and nuclear weapons, and to follow the nonviolent Jesus steadfastly.”

J.L. Drouhard, director of the Seattle archdiocese’s Missions Office, said he and his wife “watched our three kids grow up with Bix at St. Leo Parish in Tacoma, where social justice ministries and the Catholic Worker community were ever present. Bix has been their hero in the church, putting a face on what ‘prophet’ must mean in Scripture. After the kids went off to college and jobs elsewhere, Bix always asked about them by name with genuine interest and delight. He really cares about the individual facing him — and about the deep issues affecting the one human family.”

More than 300 people attended an 80th birthday party for Bichsel at Holy Cross Community Hall in Tacoma in 2008, The News Tribune of Tacoma reported.

During an August interview with the Tacoma newspaper, Bichsel was asked if he had any regrets. He said he wished he had done more.

“I wish I had been more conscious of the call to peace and nonviolence” earlier in life, Bichsel said, and urged people to seek “the divine works in all people and to trust their calls to reach out to others, to be more human.”

In a 2008 interview, the Jesuit told the Tribune: “I never got the sense that I am a lawbreaker or that I am a criminal. I am an enforcer of the law” as reflected in the Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal or international laws on human rights.

The Tribune obituary noted that Bichsel was often “a lightning rod for praise and criticism,” citing as an example his helping organize a 2009 group’s trip to Japan — the “Journey of Repentance” — to ask forgiveness for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that precipitated the end of World War II.

The event “sparked an outcry from those who said it ignored the attack on Pearl Harbor and atrocities committed by the Japanese military,” the Tribune wrote.

Eiger told NCR he was amazed that Bichsel had been able to take part in the daylong January action at the naval base given the priest’s weakness.

“With every step, Bix was the embodiment of Christ in the world,” Eiger said. “He exuded the power that comes with that — without any ego or thoughts of self. To work with him was to be challenged to live to a higher calling.”

Bichsel is survived by a brother, Jack, in St. Paul, Minn., and numerous nieces and nephews.

[Dan Morris Young is NCR West Coast correspondent. His email address is]


For Fr. William Jerome “Bix” Bichsel S.J.
with Love for his Beloved Family and Community:

A Eulogy by Dotti Krist-Sterbick (from the March 14 funeral mass)

I would like to invite you to say Presente after I name a person or a group of people who were among the many who were a part of his life and work. He would never tell stories without mentioning people who had been significant to him.

Let’s practice…
For those who wish fullness of life for everyone…Presente
For those who long for peace…Presente

Before his death, Bix said he wasn’t sure what would happen afterwards but that he hoped he would join a Cloud of Witnesses. Perhaps we refer to this reality as Our Ancestors or the Communion of Saints.

Cloud of Witnesses….Presente

We are one community today of people from various religions, non-religions and history, some of us have known Bix all our lives,  call him uncle, great uncle, brother, Godfather and friend the who was always there for us, but a little late. And some of us went to school with him, watched the strapping young man play football, called him Fr. “what a waste” when he entered the Jesuits right after high school; some of us are Jesuits who have shared with him the life of the Society of Jesus, brotherhood, priesthood,  its particular vows, challenges, sorrows and graces. Some of us have gone to prison with him, engaged in Buddhist drumming while praying people over the line, shared ancestral prayers and smudging with him. Some of us have studied theology and German with him, washed dishes, argued, cussed, drank, got sober, laughed, and sung with him. And we heard last night, some have planted trees with him, and some(actually perhaps one) have wrestled with him over the tree several times, thereby killing the tree planted in honor of his Godson. Some have lived in the same G street community and Catholic Worker House with him. Many here have been baptized by Bix or celebrated their marriage with him. With some he has journeyed during a loved one’s death and funeral. Outcast by society because of ability, ethnicity, addiction, mental health or orientation, some of us found an ally who, on our behalf, would not back down. Some of us built houses, programs and community with him. Some of us have had our lives radically changed through Bix’s help or just by his simple presence. Some of us have never met him, but he has somehow touched or intrigued us, inspired our imagination. We are here because Bix’s heart was full of love and yeses. He lived a fullness of life that included all of us.

We can look to his mother and father and see the rich soil in which they gave him to grow. His father was a a union organizer. His mother would feed working poor  during the depression.. A strong Catholic family, the Bichsels followed the precepts at that time which included abstaining from meat on Fridays. Men would come up from the train tracks and have breakfast on the porch of the Bichsel home. His mother would always fix the same meal everyday–fried potatoes, bacon, and eggs, homemade bread. Even on Fridays. And young Bill would tell his mother not to feed them meat on Fridays because it was a sin. And young Bill would try to convince her that she was wrong. She assured him that this was OK with God and they didn’t have to worry about, quote, “that kind of a thing”. He also would tell you of stories of rock throwing wars in the neighborhood, boys forming gangs, anger and revenge. I think Bix wanted to be sure no one mistook him for a saint. He also loved his family very much.

Let us recognize some of his family from the Cloud of Witnesses.
Sarah “Sadie” Bichsel…presente
George Bichsel…presente

Mary Theresa Twohy…presente
Dick Bichsel…presente
Bob Bichsel…presente
Jim Bichsel…presente
Tom Bichsel…presente

We can look to his life in the Society of Jesus to see bits of the Bix we know today. As Bix moved into adulthood, into his priesthood, his discipleship, he began reflecting on fullness of life. What is fullness of life? In his Gospel studies he encountered Jesus who promises the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom we can encounter now. Bix often referred to this as the Kingdom of Peace. But how to attain it? Jesus seems to be clearer on how not to attain it–do not seek power/control, wealth/possession, esteem by your peers. One needs to be free to love, free of attachments—free to receive the unconditional love of God. Free to love one another as God loves us—to love our neighbor as ourselves. Bix studied that we must will the one thing We must attach ourselves to the one desire–to love as God loves us. Any other attachments make the task much more difficult and ultimately unsuccessful.

This is a difficult task, to embrace this unconditional love. Regardless of our spiritual beliefs and to search for this kind of love takes practice. Takes lots of practice that one takes up every day. And one soon discovers that it takes a letting go of one’s very self. (Grain of wheat.) Bix seemed to think this was a very important part of his own discipleship, priesthood.

In 1988 Bix wrote a poem honoring a friend, a Jesuit priest working in Alaska, Bob Corrigal SJ who died young. He is saying in it basically, may I be a priest like you. And eerily we can notice that Bix actually is describing himself.

“Your spirit call
led you to those
who were broken,
rejected, and without hope
or future.
In obedience to your call
you were fashioned into a Servant and let fall away
any clerical structure
or stricture
that gave you
rank and privilege
and divided you
from your people.”

Let us recognize some of the priests Bix loved who went before him.

Fr. Bob Corrigal … Presente
Fr. Robert “Rock Reckofki… Presente
Fr. Jimmy Boyle… Presente
Fr. Bill Houseman… Presente
Fr. Dick Mercy… Presente
Fr. Gerry Morin… Presente
Fr. Jack Morris… Presente
Fr. Pat Hurley… Presente
Archbishop Oscar Romero… Presente

During the turbulence of the 60’s and 70’s Bix becomes especially present to those who are being denied fullness of life. He marches for Civil Rights in the south and works here for African Americans; he works against the Vietnam war which is wiping out people and the land, he experiences his first arrest of 46; he reaches out to the mentally ill, with others he builds The G Street Community, the Martin Luther King Center, the Hospitality Kitchen, the Neighborhood Clinic. He is willful and tireless. By the late 80’s he cofounds the Tacoma Catholic Worker and has his first heart surgery…and throughout he has been struggling with his own demons.

Let us recognize some of those from during those times who are now a part of the cloud of witnesses.

Sr. Anne Flagge… Presente
Alberta Canada…Presente
Jean Sheoshimee Mura… Presente
Mary Jo Blenkush… Presente
Fina Chouinard… Presente
Mary Russo… Presente
Lewis Jones… Presente
Eva Hill… Presente
Irma Gary…Presente
Bob Galluci…Presente
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. … Presente
Dorothy Day…Presente

We know what it is like to struggle with our own demons. What human doesn’t? WE know too well our anger, fear, resentments, greed, competition, our desire for security, our apathy. These create an unhappiness in us that can fill us, spilling out to those around us. We no longer experience fullness of life, nor do those around us. Through the years, Bix became ever more honest with himself; he knew this was important to cultivating peace within himself and around him.

A well-educated Jesuit and an observer of society, Bix also noticed that when these human desires and unhappiness become part of our institutions, it is the vulnerable who pay the price.  Someone without power becomes the victim or is to blame. Systems are created that exclude, judge and separate people. As a culture we do not allow fullness of life for everybody. Bix would underscore all the time the need to work for justice so that all would have fullness of life which includes health care, education, employment, housing and a place in community.
Bix would word it this way in a reflection for the St. Leo bulletin:

“Well, on this September day I said goodbye to Paper Man, Red and George and headed down the sidewalk. What will become of them? In the ordinary course of life in our cities and towns I know they will never receive the resources needed for a full human life. They will not be recipients of health care, education, employment, or housing. Nor will they become respected members of an established community. They will drift and die–unknown and unhonored.”

For Bix, the ultimate symbol of institutional injustice, of humans creating a system that works against fullness of life is the Atomic Bomb. The Atomic Bomb represents our country’s whole military industrial complex and its ultimate priority.

He came to know the government’s military priority as he watched officials train foreign governments to kill their own people. He saw the resources that go to our military spending that could go to who he called “the vulnerable ones.” He saw the horror of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, how ultimate and final these bombs were in robbing people, animals, plants, trees, all of creation of fullness of life, let alone life itself. And yet, we say these bombs make us more secure. We barter away our own fullness of life in the name of security, in the name of preserving “our way of life.”

Bix wrote: “These thoughts led me to an inner feeling of futility; thoughts of how deeply embedded American people are in this culture of death when we allow our vulnerable to disappear and consent to the use of nuclear weapons which will bring global death to millions.”

The feeling of futility would come and go for Bix. Many of you here who have faced prison, or dedicated your life to justice and helping the vulnerable ones probably know this feeling intimately. The question haunts, what can one person do in the face of such principalities and powers?

During a particularly difficult time Bix was also not getting good news about his health. His heart was not predicted to last very long, he was going to die.

How did he not give up?

Bix ultimately received consolation at the gravesite of Chief Joseph in Nespelem, Washington. He encountered a feeling he called “Resurrection”. He felt the earth beat in concert with his own heart beat; he felt tremendous peace.

Speaking of this experience and of Chief Joseph he wrote: “His spirit speaks quietly and strongly to my soul. I wanted to spend some days there on retreat living in the Jesuit parish church next to the graveyard. Much of my time was spent being quiet next to his grave. The spirit of the chief who quit his heroic struggle with the US cavalry in order to save his people rises out of the earth. With his words, “From where the sun now sets, I will fight no more forever.” He stopped the violence of the US cavalry and the violence that comes out of battle. His compassion, humility, and strength lighted his path of nonviolence.”

From the cloud of witnesses:

Chief Joseph…Presente

Later, during his Plowshare action when he and four others cut through a fence at Bangor, sprinkled sunflower seeds and got incredibly close to the nuclear weapons, he wrote “We all experienced a great joy after being arrested, cuffed, hooded, and forced flat onto the cold earth. It came to me that beyond my furthest hopes, we were witnessing to the power of the Resurrection. Even in this place of fear, death, and hopelessness, the power of life, hope and love can rise.”

Let also recognize the Plowshare and other peace activists who have recently gone before him:
Sr. Jackie Hudson…Presente
Sr. Anne Montgomery…Presente
Lynne Greenwald…Presente
Philip Berrigan…Presente

Bix believed strongly that love is stronger than hatred. Love is always looking to infuse new life even in our darkest hours. He told the National Catholic Reporter:  “I know it sounds idealistic, but I do feel very strongly in the Resurrection and how we can act together…I believe strongly in my heart in the power of God and the power of creation and the Resurrection. They are much stronger than the powers of death,”

As Bix entered his last week of life it was no less full of this powerful love. Community like today, gathered around his bed at Jean’s House, told jokes, stories, sang songs, held silence, held the love for Bix that he had so freely given. All of you who couldn’t be there were there in spirit. And the cloud of witnesses was also there. The community found it hard to let go of him, so the vigil continued as he fell more deeply into a coma. But, ultimately the community had to let go of the physical Bix, so Bix could do his own letting go. He did not want to leave his community. He did not want to leave his family. But ultimately he let go with great peace.

And so here we are, together again, the beloved community joined with the Cloud of Witnesses. And Bix is alive in our hearts. And we get to sing love songs to him. We get to claim for him the words and poems he meant for another.

“In a world cold and frozen
you hugged warmth
into our brittle bodies
until suppleness returned,
you breathed hope
into our sagging
and desperate spirits, and
you reflected our worth
in your moon-lit face.
You bid us to sell
the pearl of great price
to use so that
no one stand in need.
You taught us
not to hinder
the work of the spirit
in any life, and
that we can learn
to take wing
and soar together.”

In the Cloud of Witnesses:

Fr. William Jerome ”Bix” Bichsel…Presente.