This poem was dedicated to Agape by Rich Bachtold, a revered member of Agape’s Mission Council, who introduced and hosted an annual Arts and Poetry Night at Agape. Rich dedicated over 20 years of his life to Agape and assisted in planting Agape’s first garden with raised beds, earning him the title of Raised Bed Revolutionary and was member of Agape’s first Mission Council which began in 1989. His memory endures.
Suzanne and Brayton meet Paul Hood and Mamoru Kato of the Peace Pagoda.
Suzanne while teaching at Simmons College, invites Philip Berrigan, Tony Mullaney of the Milwaukee 18, and Denise Levertov to a Teach-In attended by over 400 people
Ailanthus, a faith-based and resistance community rooted in Christian Nonviolence, ecumenical, interfaith and open to all, is founded by Brayton and Suzanne, with Paul Hood, Dinah Starr, and others.
Picture: Members of Ailanthus at New York Disarmament Rally 1980
Picture: Ailanthus members meeting at the Quaker meeting house in Beacon Hill. From left to right, Robert Hillegass, Dinah Starr, Paul Hood, and Jeanne Holladay.
Members of Ailanthus travel to Jonah House in Baltimore and the Pentagon for arrests and witness.
Ailanthus: A Nonviolent Witness for Peace combines with Catholics, Quakers, and activists including Tom Lewis, John Leary, and Cathleen Cooney, to begin a weekly vigil at Draper Labs, Cambridge, MA. The vigils include actions of civil disobedience which lead to arrests and trials.
Kathe McKenna, founder of the first Catholic Worker (and only) in Boston, welcomes Ailanthus to Haley House, establishing a life-time relationship.
Suzanne and Brayton are married by Fr. Joachim Lally, CSP at the Friend’s Meeting in Cambridge. The ceremony is attended by dozens of community members and extended family, and is forever remembered as a “Quatholic” wedding.
Liz McAlister gives wedding homily as Philip Berrigan Daniel Berrigan are both in jail for acts of resistance. Friday and Jerry, Liz and Phil’s children, participate in the wedding.
Suzanne does prison time at MCI Framingham for civil disobedience at Draper Labs.
Suzanne and Brayton meet the Bradleys, lifetime members of the Agape family.
Picture: From left to right – Michelle Bradley, Allah Mathematics Allah (deceased), and Julie Bradley.
Members of Ailanthus go to trial for civil disobedience at Draper Labs. Members plea Defense of Necessity, and the court rules in an historic decision, Commonwealth v. Hood.
Meetings take place to discern intentional community with Mary and Charlie McCarthy, and Steve & Nancy James, who later established a ministry in Haiti.
Picture: Assembled Ailanthus friends chanting outside of courthouse.
The Agape Community is born.Brayton and Suzanne move to Brockton, MA and buy a condemned house for $23,000 which is 0.6 miles from the McCarthy household. Charlie, Brayton, and Suzanne begin ministry teaching nonviolence, living under taxable income, and home schooling the McCarthy children.
Agape begins to vigil and fast at the Boston State House on days of execution to protest and resist the reinstatement of the death penalty in MA.
IRS puts a lien on Suzanne and Brayton’s house for withheld taxes.
Agape produces the slide show (now on DVD) “To See God Face to Face: The Nonviolence of Mahatma Gandhi,” broadening its interfaith educational outreach at the Friends Meeting in Cambridge, MA.
Agape Ministry grows to include holding seminars at junior and senior high schools and colleges with multiple themes on Christian non-violence.
Bob Wegener joins the Agape Ministry Team.
Bob Wegener, Brayton, Suzanne, and 7-month-old Teresa visit Billy Neal Moore on death row in Georgia. While in Georgia they also visit the Open Door Community and Koinonia Farm.
Picture: Sketch by Bob Wegener of Billy Neal Moore holding Teresa on death row, Jackson, GA.
Bob and Tara Wegener buy the Brockton, MA home from Brayton and Suzanne, providing the much-needed funds to purchase the land in Hardwick. Upon sale of the house to the Wegener’s, the IRS lien on the house for war tax resistance comes due.
Bob and Tara launched Agape in this significant community move.
Hundreds of volunteers from near and far assist in the building project over a two-year period. Some live in a basement apartment in Ware, which slept 10 – 12 people.
Brayton, Suzanne, Teresa, and Dan Lawrence move into a livable but incomplete Francis House amid a blizzard, assisted by Steve James.
House building continues. The roof and some rooms are finished.
Brayton and Suzanne meet Wally and Juanita Nelson, founders of the Pioneer Valley War Tax Resisters and early participants in the Civil Rights movement.
“Please Save His Life”: Billy Neal Moore National Campaign reaches several thousand. Roslyn Carter, Millard Fuller of Habitat for Humanity, and Theodore Hesburgh, CSC of the University of Notre Dame, all assist the cause.
The official community opening is attended by over 400 people. Mass is said by Bishop Timothy Harrington of Worcester. Speakers include Tom Cornell, Fr. Richard McSorley S.J., Michael True, Sister Jane Morrissey and Sr. Maryanne Guertin.
The execution of Billy Neal Moore is scheduled for August 20th. Agape joins Billy’s family in Atlanta to call for commutation. Mother Teresa intervenes. The Board of Pardon and Parole votes unanimously to commute Billy’s sentence to “life”—the first confessed homicide to gain commutation on death row nationally.
Suzanne and Brayton meet the Lyon family, Nipmuc descendants pictured below, who become an important part of Agape Community life.
Fr. Warren Savage asks Agape to teach a year-long nonviolent education program at Cathedral High School in Springfield. The program focuses on the Seamless Garment position, and topics include pacifism, nonviolent resolution to war, capital punishment, and abortion. Speakers include Alden Poole, WWII vet, Billy Neal Moore, former death row inmate, and singer Sarah Pirtle.
Agape joins National Protest Campaign in opposition to the U.S. invading Kuwait and Iraq.
Philip Berrigan, SJ celebrates Agape’s 10th Anniversary with a talk on voting in an election year at the Congregational Church in Hardwick, MA. Pictured below.
Picture: From left to right – Brayton, Daniel Lawrence, Chief Francis house carpenter, Suzanne, and Philip Berrigan.
Picture: Horse and buggy at Agape Francis Day with rides for children.
Picture: Holy Cross Peace and Conflicts Studies retreat at Agape with Ted Henken, third from left, who later became an Agape intern and remains involved in Agape’s ongoing plans.
50th Anniversary of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp.
Francis Day speakers include Dave Dellinger; Edwin Brunel, Auschwitz survivor; and Hibakusha, survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Agape and other Peace Communities join Dean Hammer, Plowshares Eight Member, in peacemaker retreat at the Benedictine Weston Priory. Dan Berrigan reads poetry accompanied by cellist Eugene Friesen of the Paul Winter Consort.
Agape teaches year-long nonviolent education program at North Cambridge Catholic High School, Cambridge, MA.
Agape begins construction of a straw bale house with a compost toilet and solar energy. Money is raised by selling bales of straw.
Francis Day keynotes include Vincent Harding, speech writer for Martin Luther King Jr., and Miriam Therese McGillis, cofounder of Genesis Farm.
Picture: Vincent Harding with Suzanne and Brayton.
The Straw Bale House is completed and named Brigid House, after Saint Brigid of Kildare. The house is blessed by Agape Chaplain Fr. David Gill S.J., Sr. Eleanor Mclellan RSCJ, and other guests.
Brayton, Suzanne, and Teresa travel to Ireland. Suzanne and Brayton meet and co-present with Nobel Laureate Mairead Corrigan McGuire. They also attend Zen Peacemakers retreat with testimonies from IRA members and families of Protestant Provisionals.
Picture: Left to right- Suzanne, Brayton, Mairead Corrigan McGuire
John Schuchardt, cofounder of the House of Peace, spearheads “Prison Pilgrimage” with Buddhist Peace Pagoda, Agape, and many other participants. Pilgrims walk to twenty prisons throughout MA calling for prison reform and abolition.
Picture: Many friends of Agape including Mike True, John Schuchardt, Margaret Johnson, Frances Crowe, Elizabeth Dellinger, and Dave Dellinger.
Agape starts a fourteen year long relationship with the Sisters of Saint Joseph (CSJ) of Boston to facilitate programs for Bethany Hill Place, a living and learning community located in Framingham, MA. Programs include a retreat setting with prayer, deep sharing about addictions and life as an unhoused person, and the healing power of community and nonviolent love. Sr. Eleanor Daniels CSJ and Sr. Denise Kelly CSJ, Program Coordinator, brought students from Bethany to Agape for days of fun. Pictured below.
September 11th Attacks and US military invasion of Afghanistan.
Picture: Francis Crowe, Suzanne, and two Agape Interns from Ireland at the Westover Air Force base in Chicopee, MA.
Picture: House of Peace, Tom Lewis, Charlie McCarthy, Agape, and Pax Christi members protest the invasion at the Catholic Cathedral in Boston.
Agape drafts A Catholic Call to Peacemaking, a Christian statement of nonviolence in opposition to the invasion that indicts the American Catholic Bishops for their support of the “War on Terrorism.” The only two bishops to oppose the invasion were Bishops Thomas Gumbleton (Detroit) and John Botean (Canton, OH), both friends of Agape.
Brayton attends American Catholic Bishops Conference in Dallas to protest the bishops’ votes and to call them back to Jesus’ prophetic message of nonviolence.
Agape members join with Jane Morrissey SSJ, Pat Ferrone, Cornelia Sullivan, and Linda Finlay in support of Pope John Paul II’s ecumenical Peace Day in Assisi, Italy. Peace vigils take place in Assisi and Vatican Square. Agape and friends hold a banner that reads “We U.S. Catholics to our Church say NO to the War on Terrorism.”
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton and James Douglass, Theologian, Author, and Resister celebrate Agape’s 20th Anniversary.
Phillip Berrigan dies and is eulogized in Agape’s journal Servant Song.
U.S. invades Iraq.
Members of Agape, House of Peace, Buddhist Peace Pagoda, and the Peace Abbey are arrested in Natick at a weapons facility and at the Westover Air Force Base. Six months of trials follow. All are found guilty, but charges are dismissed.
Picture: Protest and arrest at Westover
Picture: Protest and arrest at Natick
Teresa takes a Mission Trip to the Dominican Republic.
Agape purchases a V.W. Jetta Diesel and converts it to run on used vegetable oil supplied by 99 Restaurant’s manager Peter Wuelfing, Agape friend. The car assisted in resisting the use of fossil fuel which feeds US resource wars abroad.
Suzanne and Brayton join protests in NYC during Republican National Convention. Protestors conduct an illegal rally at the U.N. and march peacefully without a permit to the site of the Republican Convention.
Eugene Friesen, Paul Winter Consort cellist, performs a benefit concert for Agape to raise money for land in Hardwick which was slated for development without regard to wetlands or wildlife. Agape raises enough funds to protects 1 ½ acres.
Wheels of Justice Campaign from WI, led by Mike Miles of Anathoth Community Farm, stops at Agape.
Dave Dellinger dies. His wife Elizabeth Dellinger commits Dave’s ashes to Agape soil with Father David Gil SJ. Pictured below.
Agape joins CT and MA Citizens Against the Death Penalty to oppose the execution of Michael Ross in CT. Billy Neal Moore intervenes on Michael’s behalf. Ross gives up his appeals and is executed in May.
Freedom Farm is modeled after Agape vision and nonviolent spirituality.
Edgar Hayes, former Agape intern and current Mission Council and Board of Directors member, and wife Ann Rader, MA in Theological Studies from Wesley Theological Seminary and current member of the Mission Council, cofound Freedom Farm Community. The community is a Christian-based farm that shares organic produce with neighbors in need and offers youth and young adult ministry through farm work and intentional community. With an antiracism charism, Freedom Farm works with disadvantaged youth from inner-city New York which includes educating young people of color on farming, gardening, and sustainability. Edgar goes on to become a Minister in the Hudson River Presbytery of NY.
Picture: Ann and Edgar at Freedom Farm Community
Agape conducts a year-long forum on “Peak Oil” and sustainable energy which begins on Francis Day. Hardwick participants Chris Green and Bill Cole initiate a local Hardwick Farmers Market. Commitment to world peace starts with local growing and non-cooperation with oil.
Agape joins Boston College faculty, students and anti-war activists protesting Condoleezza Rice’s honorary degree at BC. Future members of Agape’s post graduate group, the Creatively Maladjusteds, form the core of the student protest leadership.
Picture: Protest at Boston College
Picture: Carlos Arrendondo, center, with Agape friends who became a prominent Peace activist after his son, Alex, was killed in combat in Iraq.
Agape chaplain, David Gill SJ, presents nonviolent position to Honors Convocation at Boston College during graduation week ceremonies.
Suzanne and Brayton take a year-long sabbatical after 25 years of nonviolent community to visit peace communities and monasteries in the US and abroad.
Arun Gandhi gives the keynote address at Agape’s 25th anniversary. Pictured below, third from left.
Picture: Brayton and Suzanne meet with Fr. Richard Rohr at The Center for Contemplation and Action in Albuquerque, NM.
Sabah Kader and sons, Omar, and Ali, join Agape’s extended community. Sabah’s wife, Suad, was killed by an American attack at a checkpoint in Baghdad. Sabah was critically wounded, and Omar, age 4, was burned on over 70% of his body. They seek medical help in the US. Agape helps with friendship, housing, special outreach, and fundraising.
Picture: Ali, Sabah, and Omar watering Suad’s tree at Agape.
Former interns and retreatants form the post-graduate group, the Creatively Maladjusteds. The community meets regularly in Boston.
Agape receives the Courage of Conscience award from the Peace Abbey.
Brayton goes to Haiti to assist Agape Cofounders Steve and Nancy James in relief efforts after the earthquake in January.
Picture: Dr. Steve James, left, with earthquake survivors, and his wife Nancy, right.
Francis Day theme is “Women and War: Finding our Voices, Reclaiming our Legacy.” Speakers include Dr. Paula Green, winner of the Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award given by the Dalai Lama, Martha Hennessy, seventh grandchild of Dorothy Day and member of Kings Bay Plowshares 7, and American and Iraqi survivors and combat veterans of the war in Iraq.
Agape shifts the focus of its educational ministry after 20 years of college retreats. Programs evolve to reach people from ages 20-40, including Divinity Schools and area Grad Schools. “The Creatively Maladjusteds” era continues as a primary way for Agape to evangelize the “integrated life of Christian nonviolence and sustainable living.”
Juanita Nelson dedicates a tree for her husband Wally Nelson at Agape. The Nelsons were leaders in both the Pioneer Valley and National War Tax Resistance communities and broader pacifist movement. Pictured below.
Brayton is arrested at Vermont Yankee Power Plant headquarters in Brattleboro, VT, extending Agape’s commitment to green energy, sustainable living, and opposing nuclear power.
Agape celebrates its 30th Anniversary with Arun Gandhi, Roy Bourgeois, Molly Scott, and Billy Neal Moore.
Olivia, daughter of Teresa Shanley, and granddaughter of Suzanne and Brayton is born.
Francis Day theme is “Faith and the Environment.” Speakers include Sr. Bernadette Bostwick and Sr. Amie from the Green Monastery (former residency and current resting place of Thomas Berry, Geologian), Prof. Roger Gottlieb, Tom Cornell, Shea Reister, and David Tall Pine White.
David Tall Pine White plants a Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar dedicated to the Nipmuc Nation, whose land Agape occupies.
Francis Day theme is “A Vital Conversation: Integrating Ecology, Justice and Peace.” Keynote speakers are Mary Evelyn Tucker, co-founder and co-director on the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale, and husband John Grim.
Picture: Suzanne, John Grim, and Mary Evelyn Tucker
Suzanne and Brayton are keynote speakers at the annual Daniel Berrigan SJ Lecture at Le Moyne College. Lecture is entitled “How Are We to Live in This World: Integrated Life of Gospel Nonviolence, Earth Centered Contemplation, and Sustainability.”
Francis Day theme is “Building and Sustaining Nonviolent Communities: What is Our Future.” Speakers include Michael Baxter, professor of Religion at Regis University, and Jackie Allen and Chris Doucot, cofounders of the Hartford Catholic Worker.
Veterans for Peace tree is planted and dedicated to Tony Flaherty, Korean War Veteran, Alden Poole, WWII Veteran, Paul Hood, WWII Marine, and all Veterans for Peace.
Suzanne and Brayton meet Jim Robinson, current member of Agape’s Mission Council and Board of Directors, at Harvard University Conference.
Dixon George joins Agape and stays for 6 years.
Agape celebrates the life of Richard Bachtold after his passing. Richard was a committed and original Agape Board Member for 20 years and was called the poet in non-residence and the “Raised Bed Revolutionary”.
Agape joins Pax Christi, Veterans for Peace, Sisters of St. Anne, and Worcester Catholic Workers at John Joseph Moakley Courthouse to protest the death penalty at the Trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Pax Christi and Agape sponsor a petition to Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Boston Archdiocese to denounce the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Suzanne and Brayton receive the Paulist Center Isaac Hecker Award for Social Justice.
Francis Day theme is “Listening to Muslim Voices in an Election Year.” Speakers include Nadia Alawa, founder, and president of New Day Syria; Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, Attorney for rights of Muslim women; Dr. Hisham Moharram; Dr. Robert Emmet Meagher, Professor at Hampshire College & Pacifist Author; and Dr. Ahmad Al-Hadidi, Physician. Music by Alicen Roberts, Rachel Ravina, and Chris Nauman.
Brown University, Franklin College, Iona College, the Paulist Center Youth Group, St. Joseph’s Long Island Campus Ministry, and Stonehill College students come to Agape for retreats and Rural Immersions.
Suzanne and Brayton attend Daniel Berrigan SJ’s funeral in New York City.
Brayton takes a pilgrimage to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock to deliver straw bales for Tipi insulation with Tim Bullock from the Peace Pagoda, and Nelia Sargent.
Francis Day theme is “Listening to Native Voices: Standing Rock is Everywhere.” Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota/Nakota/Dakota Sioux, 19th keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe and Bundle, arrives at Agape and stays for three days. Other Speakers include Chief Dwaine Perry of the Lenape Tribe; Two Clouds; Beatrice Menase Kwe Jackson, leader of Standing Rock Water Ceremonies; The Rt. Rev. Doug Fisher, Episcopal Bishop of Western MA; Gentle Hawk; and Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Missioner for Creation Care in the Episcopal Diocese of Western MA.
Picture: Beatrice Menase Kwe Jackson leading the Water Ceremony procession to the pond beside Francis House.
Picture: Chief Arvol Looking Horse at Agape
Iona College Students on a four-day Rural Immersion plant a tree in memory of Daniel Berrigan, SJ.
Agape attends memorial service for Bruce Davidson, cofounder of Agape’s sister community, Sirius Community. Brayton delivers the eulogy to Bruce.
Agape plants a tree in honor of the late Pat Tracy, friend of the community for 22 years.
Francis Day theme is “Confronting Systemic Racism: Voices for Racial Justice.” Speakers include Prof. John H. Bracey Jr., Professor at W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; Fr. Warren Savage; Tahirah Amatul-Wadud; Council on American Islamic Relations; and Elena Creef; Prof of Women’s and Gender Studies at Wellesley College.
Picture: Professor John H. Bracey, left, and Fr. Warren Savage, right.
Picture: Members of Worcester Inter-Tribal Indian Center light a sacred fire.
Francis Day theme is “Youth Leader, Listening to Elder Wisdom: Creating a Nonviolent Future.” Speakers include Frida Berrigan, Steve & Nancy James, Fr. Charles McCarthy, Jim Robinson, and Samantha Leuschner. Music by Matt Carriker, Harry Duchesne, and Fran Reagan.
Loving Life on the Margins: The Story of the Agape Community is published by Haley’s Publishing. An extensive book tour is planned but interrupted by Covid. Book signings take place at Dorothy Day CW in DC, Jonah House in Baltimore, Brownsville Quaker Meeting in North Carolina, and Elms College prior to the start of the pandemic.
Brayton and Suzanne give talks at Fordham University, which include book signings.
Picture: From left to right – Jim Robinson, Fr. Thomas Massaro SJ, Suzanne, Jack Reynolds, Prof. Jeannine Hill Fletcher, and Brayton at Fordham University.
Nicole Brathwaite-Hunt leads a Native Women’s Retreat at Agape.
Julie Bradley assumes the role of Office Manager at Agape.
Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, Agape holds a virtual Francis Day, themed “Becoming Anti-Racist to Build Beloved Community.” Speakers include Sr. Melinda Pellerin SSJ, Rev Jonathan Betts-Field, Julie Bradley, Edgar & Micah Hayes, Steve & Nancy James, and Jeannelle Wheeler.
Agape hosts a second virtual Francis Day, themed “Love and Fear in the Era of COVID.” Speakers include Sr. Melinda Pellerin SSJ, Edgar Hayes, Rhonda Miska, Vickie Machado, and April Dinwoodie.
Post-Covid Keynote by Suzanne and Brayton at Salve Regina University. Their talk is entitled “Moving from Fear in These Precarious Times: The Practice of Mercy and Nonviolence.”
Covid issues lead to Agape leading a virtual Lenten Retreat entitled “Loving Life on the Margins, Finding Our Prophetic Voice” sponsored by Jim & Shelley Douglass, cofounders of Mary’s House in Birmingham, AL. Other speakers include Frida Berrigan, Brenna Cussen Anglada of the Saint Isidore Catholic Worker Farm in Wisconsin, and more.
Allah Mathematics Allah, brother to Julie Bradley and lifetime friend of Agape, dies suddenly at age 47 after a spectacular career as the founding barber of the Everything Is Real Barbershop in Roxbury, MA.
Allah was a well-known community organizer in whose memory a street corner near the barbershop is named Allah Mathematics Allah.
Agape 40th Anniversary
Francis Day theme is “Dance to the Music of Community.”
Tom Cornell, keynote speaker at Agape’s first Francis Day held in 1989, dies after a lengthy illness. Brayton and Suzanne attend the funeral with many Catholic Workers and Peace People present.
Nativity School, located in Worcester, MA is stripped of its Catholic Identity by Bishop Robert McManus for flying Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ Flag. Before the Bishop officially declared that the Jesuit sponsored school is no longer a Catholic school, eighth grade graduates came to Agape for a day-long retreat, led by Fr. Warren Savage. Fr. Tom McMurray, the Executive Director of Nativity, who was also present at the Agape program, was told weeks later that Nativity cannot use its Catholic title or offer Mass and other religious services at the school. Agape has supported Nativity School and continues to stand by the school’s decision to fly the flags.
Ongoing Collaborative Efforts with a Variety of Communities and Universities
Kathleen P. Deignan CND, Director of Deignan Institute for Earth and Emerita professor for Religious Studies at Iona College fosters an alliance between Iona College, Freedom Farm, and Agape through the leadership of Jim Robinson, Agape Board and Mission Council Member.
Agape assists in the founding of Mass Catholics for Indigenous Rights (MC4IR), a group advocating for the Catholic Church to acknowledge church-sanctioned crimes at Native Residential Schools.