Celebrant’s Flame

NEW from Bill Wylie-Kellermann

Celebrant’s Flame:
Daniel Berrigan in Memory and Reflection

In his latest book, Celebrant’s Flame: Daniel Berrigan in Memory and Reflection, Bill Wylie-Kellermann explores the many identities of his teacher and friend, Dan Berrigan — from fugitive priest to prisoner-poet to confessor to evangelist of nonviolence to chaplain with the dying. 

Celebrant’s Flame is a fond reflection on Wylie-Kellermann’s lifelong friendship with Berrigan and a fascinating, accessible retelling of Berrigan’s life and impact on the church and the world. 

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Well-researched (including a four-page bibliography), the book covers Berrigan’s journey from young seminarian during World War II, his participation in the civil rights movement, his opposition (and eventual arrest and imprisonment) to the war in Vietnam, his anti-nuclear activism, his life as a poet and scholar, at the end of his life, his ministry as a chaplain to New York City’s dying AIDs patients.

In Celebrant’s Flame, Wylie-Kellermann shares reflections and personal letters from his own collection and from other friends of Berrigan. Included in this 174-page tribute are:

  • Reflections from author and scholar Eric Martin on the decades-long correspondence that Dan kept with his brother, Philip, and Dan’s insatiable hunger for learning
  • A personal letter from Dan’s fellow inmate, John Bach, about the Great Books class Dan and Phil led at Danbury prison and the resulting hunger strike and underground newspaper
  • Peace activist Kathy Kelly’s memories of hearing from other activists – as far away as in the deserts of Iraq – about how profoundly they had been influenced by Berrigan’s message and example
  • Jim Reale’s recounting of how Berrigan’s deep commitment to friendship transformed Reale’s own life and vocation from day laborer to Plowshares activist to hospice nurse
  • Plus Wylie-Kellermann’s reflections on his time as Dan’s student, in contemplation and conversation about death and dying, as co-conspirator in activism and ministry, and their connected lives of faith and justice-seeking

Celebrant’s Flame is an inviting read for anyone familiar with Berrigan’s ministry or for those just learning about this remarkable priest, poet, and prophet for the first time. Written with Berrigan’s 100th birthday (May 9) in mind, these reflections help keep the flame of this beloved celebrant burning for a new movement generation arising among us.

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