Berrigan, Daniel J.

Berrigan, Daniel J. (Joseph)

(1921–  ) Catholic priest, social activist, poet; born in Two Harbors, Minn. (brother of Philip Berrigan). He entered the Order of the Society of Jesus (1939), was ordained (1952), and after studying in France (where he was influenced by the worker-priest movement), he taught at Catholic preparatory schools until becoming associate professor of theology at LeMoyne College (Syracuse, N.Y.) (1957–62). His book of poems, Time Without Number (1957), won the Lamont Poetry Award. After serving as assistant editor of Jesuit Missions in New York City (1963–65), he became associate director of United Religious Work (1966–69). Active in opposing the Vietnam War, he went with professor Howard Zinn of Boston University to Hanoi, North Vietnam, to assist in obtaining the release of three American pilots (1968); the diary he kept during this mission, along with 11 poems, became Night Flight to Hanoi (1968). With his brother, Philip Berrigan, he gained national attention for destroying draft registration files in Catonsville, Md. (1968); in 1970 he was sentenced to three years in prison for this, but he went underground for several months until federal authorities arrested him on Block Island (off Rhode Island). After 18 months in prison, he was paroled in 1972 and participated with his brother in the first Plowshares Action (1980), a protest at the General Electric Plant at King of Prussia, Pa. Living among Jesuits, writing and conducting retreats, he was arrested regularly for his protest actions at weapons manufacturers and other sites (1980–92). He wrote over 50 books, including The Trial of the Catonsville 9 (1970), an autobiography (1987), and at least four films.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.