From the Prioress

2018 Prophet of Peace
February 10, 2018

Benedictines seek God with a single-hearted faith according to the vision of Benedict and Scholastica. We witness to the scriptures and strive to be women of compassion who take responsibility for local and global change to bring about justice and peace in our world. Because of this we choose this feast of Scholastica for our annual Prophet of Peace Award—an opportunity to acknowledge others who take responsibility for change that brings about justice and peace.

This evening, we honor Sam Miller, recipient of the Erie Benedictines 2018 Prophet of Peace Award.

Why is it that the reading from the Prophet Micah is especially appropriate for the occasion?

Micah was a social justice prophet. He challenged the leaders of his day for their injustice toward the lowly. Micah railed against the powerful mistreating the powerless. He is described as a “fearless champion for the cause of the oppressed.”(JBC/Jerome Biblical Commentary)

In the reading we just heard, the Prophet Micah calls us to social justice as a way of life:

Act with justice.
Love with tenderness.
Walk humbly with your God.

Not justice alone. Not love alone. Not walking with God alone. One depends on the other.

To live the truths spelled out by the Prophet Micah we need only to understand that—

• to walk humbly with God means we are engaged in a relationship with God that becomes foundational to our spirituality;

• to love with tenderness we must, in fact, work to be love—to be concerned and to offer our support to all in need;

• to act with justice we must challenge the injustices in our world, not with talk alone but with action. Justice, love and spirituality are to be intertwined in our lives.

Justice and peace are terms that we hear over and over in our world and society. People desire justice and peace to be realities. How can they become realities without effort, hard work, commitment and dedication? I believe this is what we see in Sam Miller.

For Sam Miller, justice and peace are not lost dreams but rather, a way of life.
Sam Miller is a father, a brother, an uncle, a friend, an advocate, a prophet for peace. He is a retired consultant for hospital clinical engineering and facilities management. Primarily he served health care providers, industry and law firms on health care technology matters in a numbers of ways and in a numbers of countries. His education in electrical engineering began at Gannon University with a bachelor’s degree. He then earned a master’s degree at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn and was a PhD candidate at the State University of New York, Buffalo campus. He served in the US Air Force, a non-combat military branch, and avoided draft into the Korean War.

It was in 1972, that Sam’s social justice work began in earnest. As part of the Western New York Peace Center he protested the Vietnam War. He then joined the Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes to protest and inform area people about a nuclear fuel processing plant that was involved with atomic bombs and on-site burial of nuclear wastes. Involvement with Physicians for Social Responsibility, a world-wide anti-war organization, gave him the opportunity to protest nuclear arms. Eventually, Sam became trained in non-violent civil disobedience methods and was part of a group that actively mounted civil disobedience protests at various nuclear power plants.

In 1980 Sam moved to Buffalo and continued his civil disobedience anti-war protest activities with the West New York Peace Center. He also joined Veterans for Peace and attends a local Quaker Meeting for worship whenever possible.

What we learn from this is that Sam Miller is dedicated and committed to the work of justice. We learn that Sam Miller is very much like the Prophet Micah: a fearless champion for the cause of justice.

Sam’s work for justice has extended as well to a longtime commitment to the environment. He has been a member of the Sierra Club, the nation's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, for over 40 years and is on the executive board of the local Lake Erie Group. In addition to this, three years ago Sam helped to reactivate the local Erie anti-fracking organization, Our Water, our Rights, adding Our Air to the name to promote awareness of impending gas drilling using fracking here in Erie and other local counties.

What we learn from this is that Sam Miller is involved in things that focus on the social implications of environmental issues that disproportionately impact poorer communities. We learn that Sam Miller is very much like the Prophet Micah: a fearless champion for the cause of justice.

Sam is no stranger to us. He is a member of the Benedictines for Peace steering committee and is active in fighting the pro-war, anti-clean energy, and anti-immigration policies that prevail in our nation, all of which are clearly aligned with our Corporate Commitment.

While all of this merely touches on the contributions Sam has made through his commitment, effort and work, it is enough to give you some insight into a man who is caring and courageous—and who is, in the words of Joan Chittister, “a man of great heart, good mind, and most of all, unstinting commitment to the questions of peace and justice that fatigue and discourage the average person.”

Sam, like the prophet Micah, offers us a vision for good life and a new world order that will dawn when the earth’s peoples act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with their God.

Sam, I invite you to come forward.

Presentation of Prophet of Peace Award

Sam Miller, you embody the corporate commitment of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie as a prophetic witness of peace and justice.

Tonight we extend our annual Prophet of Peace Award to you—

—a man who is a testament to the good that one caring, committed, and justice-seeking person can do to build a more peaceful world

—a man who has devoted more than 50 years of his adult life to peace, justice and environmental issues in the Buffalo, NY area and Erie, PA

—a man who created and directed Our Air, Our Earth, Our Rights to ban fracking in the Lake Erie watershed and to stop pollution of air and water in our community

—a man who volunteers with Benedictines for Peace, Erie Veterans Administration, Erie County Library, Emmaus Ministries, UPMC Hamot, and Presque Isle Partnership

—a man who has organized local protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, drone warfare and “bomb trains”

—a man who is an active member of Veterans for Peace.

We honor you.
We applaud your life’s work.
We pray for the courage to follow your example.

May you continue to “seek peace and pursue it” with the honor and support of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie.

Sister Anne Wambach, OSB, the twenty-first prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania is a native of Philadelphia. She moved to Mount St. Benedict Monastery in 1992 to respond to a desire to experience the monastic way of life. Previously a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Chestnut Hill, Sister Anne began the formal transfer process to the Erie Benedictines in 1993 and made her monastic profession in 1997.

Sister Anne has served the people of the Diocese of Erie as a teacher at St. Gregory's School in North East, Pa., from 1992-1995, and at the Neighborhood Art House in Erie, beginning as program director in 1995 and as executive director since 2005. She served on the Monastic Council from 2006-2010.