GRAND RAPIDS, MI – September 30, 2020 – Ardeth Platte, OP: justice preacher, peace seeker, teacher, compassionate neighbor and friend stood with people on the margins—God’s people—and helped to lift up their cries again and again, each and every day. As the sun rose this morning, we discovered that God called home our prophet of peace.
Sister Ardeth died in her sleep in the early morning hours of September 30, 2020.
Today, we remember and are grateful for her 66 years as a Dominican Sister of Grand Rapids, and we grieve as we prepare for a farewell, unexpected in our time. We hold Sr. Ardeth’s family and friends, her religious community, local community, and the global community in which she served in our hearts and prayers. May she rest in the loving embrace of our God.
Sr. Ardeth carried the burdens of the world willingly, preaching love, peace, and human dignity always. She stood for restorative justice and rehabilitation against a broken criminal justice system, even if it meant being imprisoned herself. Her commitment to universal human rights meant living her life fully dedicated to peace and the abolishment of nuclear weapons. She reminded us that hunger is a real and present danger in the United States of America; and she did something about it: sowing and harvesting a garden and offering God’s bounty to neighbors.
She was born on Good Friday, April 10, 1936 in Lansing, Michigan and grew up in Westphalia, Michigan, graduating from St. Mary’s High School in Westphalia in 1953 as its valedictorian. She entered the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids in 1954, at the age of 18; and ministered as a Sister for 66 years.
She studied at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and received her teaching degree. She began teaching, and in the late 1960s, in addition to being principal of St. Joseph High School in Saginaw, she founded the St. Joseph Alternative Night School for youth and adults wishing to complete their high school education.
Dominican Sister Carol Gilbert, OP, journeyed with Sr. Ardeth in this nearly 40-year ministry for peace. In the 1980s, they worked with a coalition to place an initiative on the Michigan State Ballot to disallow nuclear weapons from being deployed in Michigan in preservation of freshwater lakes and soil. It passed by 56 percent of the vote. However, the federal government superseded the state law and brought hundreds of nuclear cruise missiles and squadrons of B-52s onto two Strategic Air Force Bases, in Oscoda and in Quinn/Marquette. Sr. Ardeth began full time organizing to witness at these bases, to call for nonviolent symbolic actions to eliminate these hundreds of weapons. Both bases were closed within the next twelve years after hundreds of persons, including Sr. Ardeth, were arrested, called before the courts for civil resistance, and even jailed.
Her activism for peace led her to represent the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and she with Sr. Carol joined the organization at the United Nations in 2017. ICAN received the Nobel Peace Prize for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.
Highly respected nationally and internationally for her grasp of the complexity of the military-industrial complex, her articulation of the injustices perpetrated on people who are poor, and her perseverance in the pursuit of justice and peace, she remained a humble, gentle, and generous soul who was loved and admired by all who knew her.
In 1995, Platte moved to Jonah House in Baltimore, Maryland, where she took part in Plowshares actions. She became part of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker community in Washington, DC in 2018 to live and minister, continuing to raise awareness about the use of nuclear weapons and the humanitarian and environmental impact such weapons have on the world and its citizens.
Sr. Ardeth will be cremated. The challenges of traveling at this time means the funeral and burial will be held at a later date in Grand Rapids. Her obituary is pending.
More information about her life can be found at https://www.grdominicans.org/sisters/sister-ardeth-platte/.
Contact: Stacy Spitler