John Hogan, Our Brief Encounter
One of the interesting moments when one is a clergyman is a brief encounter with the famous and/or infamous. While serving a church in New Haven, Connecticut during the tumultuous '60's, I had my share of these.
One interesting, but brief encounter, was being approached by a couple to perform their wedding celebration. The man was John Hogan. He just recently died. Who he was did not click with me at first. He was a mild soft spoken shy kind of man. As I remember, his future wife did much of the talking. It was to be a quiet modest affair. I ageed.
It took another person to point out who John Hogan was. He was one of the Catonsville Nine. I would have liked to have talked to him about that but I also wanted to respect his privacy and thought he should bring it up.
The Catonsville Nine were a group of militant, antiwar Catholics, lead by Philip and Daniel Berrigan who were priests at the time. They broke into the Draft Board Registration Office in Catonsville, Md and removed the files outside and set them on fire. Then waited for the police to arrive to arrest them. Their trial was of wide interest in those days. It was a form of protest against the draft and the war in Vietnam, one of many in 1968. ,that critical year in American history. It was an act of civil disobedience, direct action. The Nine were found guilty and and sentences to a few years in jail.
Daniel Berrigan wrote a play "The Trial of The Catonsille Nine" which I had read, when I met John Hogan. There was also a movie made I believe.
I have long been an admirer of militant Catholics such as liberation theologians or the Catholic Worker's movement. Their commitment always strong to serve the poor and social outcast in the spirit of " comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable". In combination with the tool of civil disobedience and militant direct action, they were often a force for good in their witness to the power of Christianity.
Many of the Catonsville Nine went on to actively live the rest of their lives in the spirit of their radical faith. I have often wondered how prominent activists of the '60 came to live out their lives. Sadly, many I learn of through their obituary. I encourage you to click on the highlight obituary (above) published in the Baltimore Sun.
For those who might want to read more about the Catonsville Nine go here. Or view the action on You Tube.