Sr. Megan Gillspie Rice. January 31, 1930 – October 10, 2021
Peace and nuclear disarmament activist, Catholic nun and member of the Transform Now Plowshares, Megan was arrested several dozen times for acts of nonviolent protest at military and nuclear weapons sites. She spent time in prison for actions at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex and for protesting torture at Ft. Benning’s U.S. Army School of the Americas.
Friends of Peace & Justice may remember Sister Megan’s visit to the Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre when we were based at Upper Bow. As one of the Transform Now Plowshares group, at age 82, Sr Megan breached security at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee where the core of the Hiroshima bomb, and of thousands more were created. The trio spray painted and hammered on the walls of bunkers in which nuclear weapons were stored, symbolically enacting the prophecy of Isaiah that “they shall beat their swords into plowshares”.
Sister Megan’s action continued the “Plowshares” tradition of mostly Roman Catholic nuclear disarmament activists started in 1980 and in turn inspired others. Five members of the “Kings Bay Plowshares” group are serving out sentences in halfway houses or home confinement in the United States, while one member, Fr. Steve Kelly remains wanted for his refusal to report for probation after completing a lengthy prison sentence.
Megan’s action also prompted a congressional review of security at the nuclear weapons facility. The US government is currently spending over $1 trillion to modernize its nuclear forces.
The Washington Post carried a full dramatic account of the action of the Transform Now Plowhsares.