David Stang’s Letter about His Sister, continued

I am sharing a letter from David Stang, Sister Dorothy’s brother, which I began in yesterday’s DM.

A BBC News crew investigates what lay behind the murder of Sister Dorothy Stang. MDMarshall

We then went to the Lawyers’ plush building and auditorium. But first outside in the courtyard were several hundred people singing in a circle and also praying for Dot. Ninety percent were peasants. We then walked into the building peasants had never dreamt they would ever be allowed to enter. As I walked in lawyers in their suits and ties were staring at us. The plush auditorium was filled with peasants, politicians, lawyers, professors and other government agents.

When Dot received her award she invited Maggie and I to be with her and we all hugged each other. I looked out at the crowd and many people had tears in their eyes. People started coming on to the stage hugging her and whispering in her ear.  Everyone knew she had a price on her head. So, many were saying goodbye and saying their spouse or sibling or friend were also killed once they had a price on their head.

Video meditation on the life of Sister Dorothy Stang, based on Robert Ellsberg’s book “Blessed Among Us: Day by Day with Saintly Witnesses.” Sheen Center.

The next day Dot took us to the House of Representatives. We sat outside. It was a glass building and we could see them proceeding with government business. Suddenly two men came out and invited Dot and Maggie and I inside. They sat us with them, with us in the front seat. Many stood up and started clapping. Several of them also came up and hugged Dot and said loudly that their spouse or friends had also been killed.

Less than two months later Dot was murdered.

At Dot’s memorial several Bishops and Priests and a Protestant woman priest concelebrated at the Mass.

Musical memorial to the martyrdom and message of Sister Dorothy Stang. Sr. Angele Lewis SND

This letter wonderfully concretizes the story of Sr. Dorothy’s final days and makes real her “large heart,” that is, her courage.  We learn that courage is an infectious virus, a community thing, not just an individual thing.  Spirit is like that. 

I recall attending a Mass in the Amazon after which people were asked to light a candle and name three names of someone they knew personally who had been killed trying to defend the forest.  One person told me, “the hard part was limiting it to three.  I know at least ten off the top of my head.”


See Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-denominational Priest, pp. 211-222, 341-43, 433, 448.

Also see Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Banner Image: “Dorothy Stang: present in the people’s struggle! 14 years since the death of Sister Dorothy Stang, defender of the forest….” Photo by Brasil de Fato on Flickr.


Queries for Contemplation

Does the story of the Mass in the Amazon as well as that of Sister Dorothy awaken you to how universal courage can be?  How all of us have courage in us?  What difference does that democratizing of courage make to you?


Recommended Reading

Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest (Revised/Updated Edition)

Matthew Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions, reveals his personal, intellectual, and spiritual journey from altar boy, to Dominican priest, to his eventual break with the Vatican. Five new chapters in this revised and updated edition bring added perspective in light of the author’s continued journey, and his reflections on the current changes taking place in church, society and the environment.
“The unfolding story of this irrepressible spiritual revolutionary enlivens the mind and emboldens the heart — must reading for anyone interested in courage, creativity, and the future of religion.”
—Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.


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3 thoughts on “David Stang’s Letter about His Sister, continued”

  1. Avatar

    On which ‘hill’ do we fight, knowing we are prepared to ‘fall on the sword’ of someone else’s wrongdoing for the love of the common good? Not all of us have to face that decision, one of immense love and courage. There is always the option to retreat into exile and fight another day. That decision is just as courageous to take and many leaders of peace have done so. Sister Dot made her decision and never looked back. — BB.

  2. Avatar

    I was reflecting last night on Sister Dorothy and seeing her life through this epic archetypal expression. She is the Great Mother in action as so are her partners and collaborators. The Amazon is the great Beloved, the great Passion, the great Love and the greening power that Hildegard of Bingen wrote about. And the illegal loggers are patriarchal forces ravaging the land. But the Goddess plants the seed and blooms, a path that crosses death and blooms from it. How in Sister Dorothy’s life of courage we also can see a cosmic template.

  3. Avatar

    LOVE~LIGHT~LIFE~PEACE~JUSTICE~HEALING~TRANSFORMATION~STRENGTH~FREEDOM~
    CREATIVITY~BEAUTY~JOY~COMPASSION~ONENESS… within and among All of Us in our daily lives, and with Beautiful Sacred Mother Earth and all Her creatures and graceful abundance….
    Our hearts/lives/Eternal Souls continue growing and evolving with God’s Spirit of DIVINE LOVE ~WISDOM with one another in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT….

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