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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

807 I’ve discovered in my life, that love is what matters in the end - I love you - Louie Vitale

Day 807: Wednesday, June 1, 2022

I’ve discovered in my life,” Louie Vitale said, “that love is what matters in the end. And all I can say is: I love you! I love you! I love you! I love you!”

Fr. Louie Vitale, OFM, co-founder of Pace e Bene, has turned 90. We are grateful for all the life and love Louie has brought to us and to the world, all these years.

Louie Vitale’s tremendous journey for peace and justice is chronicled in a chapter of a new book by Paul Murray, Seeing with the Eyes of Jesus. You can also get a glimpse of this lifelong pilgrimage in my introduction to Louie’s book Love is What Matters: The Essential Writings of Louie Vitale (Pace e Bene Press, 2015), republished here.

In 2012 Friar Louie Vitale received an honorary doctorate from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. The building was packed with joyous students and their families who were celebrating at this august graduation festival. The highlight of the event was the conferring of three honorary doctorates. Two scholarly gentlemen collected their award and delivered magisterial exhortations brimming with scholarly exegesis.

Then it was Louie’s turn. His presentation was short and to the point. “I’ve discovered in my life,” he said, “that love is what matters in the end. And all I can say is: I love you! I love you! I love you! I love you!”

And then, with a final, rousing “I love you!” as he was waving his arms in an exuberant gesture of blessing, he sat down.

The crowd was amazed and delighted.\

For the three decades that I’ve known Louie, I have seen the amazement and delight in countless situations. Louie is down-to-earth, earnest, passionate and deeply, deeply loving. He is at home in the streets and in jail – where he has spent years serving time for nonviolent resistance to war and injustice – but also in the classroom, in nature, in his tiny hermitage, and at the dinner table with friends just hanging out.

It is clear that he has taken seriously the example of Saint Francis and the way of Jesus.

Louie is a Franciscan priest who has sought to put the vision of peacemaking articulated and practiced by Francis and Clare of Assisi into practice. A former provincial of the St. Barbara Province in the western United States, Vitale was a co-founder of the Nevada Desert Experience – a spiritually-based movement that sought to end nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada Test Site – and Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service.

He has long been actively involved in a series of peace movements challenging his government’s wars in Vietnam, Central America, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other parts of the world. He has spent long stints in prison for nonviolent resistance to torture and war-making. For thirteen years beginning in the early 1990s, Louie was the pastor of St. Boniface Catholic Church in a low-income neighborhood in San Francisco, California, where he was actively involved with Religious Witness with Homeless People, an interfaith campaign challenging poverty and government policies of harassment against poor and homeless people.

What set Vitale and a relative handful of others apart were not their theological conversion but how they put it into practice. In his case, he marched and fasted with Cesar Chavez, vocally and dramatically decried the U.S. war in Vietnam, and publicly counseled and stood with young men who burned their draft cards and defied conscription into the U.S. armed forces. He supported the nonviolent civil disobedience of Daniel and Phillip Berrigan and lent his support to a wide variety of other nonviolent social struggles. Fr. Vitale’s years in Las Vegas motivated him to work with others to launch the Nevada Desert Experience, a faith-to end nuclear testing at the nearby Nevada Test Site and to co-found Pace e Bene.

Louie’s book, Love is What Matters, offers a glimpse into the journey of this pilgrim for peace and justice through a series of writings penned largely on the way, on the road, on the edges, on the pilgrimage to a world that works for everyone. It comprises reflections on the meaning of Saint Francis’s life and work for today, reflections on both the violence and nonviolent potential of our times, and, finally, reflections on his own experience of prison undertaken for a wounded and sacred world.

To help him celebrate this milestone, people everywhere sent him birthday wishes! If you like, you can still send him a birthday greeting

You can use that link to upload any pictures you might have of the two of you. If you’d like to send him a physical birthday card or hard-copy pictures, you can mail those to his long-time friend and colleague Anne Symens-Bucher at 1968 36th Ave. Oakland, CA 94601.

Reflection by Ken Buttigan

Read Ken's full article using this link:

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Jeffrey Kiehl, PhD, is a Diplomate Jungian Analyst and senior training analyst for the C.G. Jung Institute of Colorado and the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts. He is also an adjunct faculty member of Pacifica Graduate Institute. He was a climate scientist for 40 years and the author of Facing Climate Change: An Integrated Path to the Future, which provides a Jungian perspective on climate change. Jeffrey has presented on various Jungian topics at national and international conferences.

Joseph Mitchell, CP, is member of the Passionist Community and a priest in the Roman Catholic tradition. He received training in theology at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and earned a graduate degree in Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. He has been shaped and inspired by the vision of Thomas Berry, understanding the Earth to be a single sacred community. His current work focuses on the emerging scientific cosmology, the implications it has for our human institutions, and the consequences it has for human self-understanding. Toward this goal, he founded the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center in Louisville, KY, an organization dedicated to Earth and human flourishing. He currently serves there as president and resident teacher of meditation, cosmology, and Earth literacy.

Kathleen Noone Deignan, CND, PhD, Emerita Professor of Religious Studies at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY, and Founding Director of The Kathleen Deignan Institute for Earth and Spirit at Iona College. A Catholic Sister of the Congregation of Notre Dame, she is a composer of liturgical song and author of numerous publications on the ecological vision of Thomas Merton and Thomas Berry. A Board Member of the American Teilhard Association, she just completed a Book of Hours from the writings of Teilhard de Chardin to be published Spring 2023.

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