Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jerilyn DePete: In memoriam

"The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?" Dorothy Day

Jerilyn DePete was an answer to that challenge posed by Dorothy Day... she was a heart beating in unison with the heart of the world. She rose, again and again, to meet the demands of the job at hand. She gave us the pictures and the creative designs to color our dreams of peace. Even as she struggled with disease, at first undiagnosed, she was always there, with that beautiful smile that reached her eyes, ready to inspire, amuse, or console, as needed. She was a good and humble listener, a loving example of a true peacemaker. She taught me that not everything need be explained, or need be understood. Even in dark moments, she would have echoed Dorothy Day's statement: "No one has the right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do."

I shared with her once that I had watched the March of the Penguins, and had been moved by their incredible persistence in the face of subfreezing temperatures and unbelievable hardship, and I talked about our movement, and the plight of our nation which has so few dedicated penguins. She quipped in her wonderful voice full of subtle irony that she had been compared to many things in her life, but never to a penguin.

Yet Jerilyn was nothing if not an Emperor penguin, determined to stand in the face of hardship, to make sure peace would endure. She raised two beautiful daughters, who are better because they had a mother who stood firm and taught them about love and family values, which include peace and social justice. She held the baby of our dreams and hopes for a new world under her belly. I honor her commitment and her life; she was one of the gifts that allowed me connect fully with the heart of our movement.

She will be sorely missed.

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