“Maverick Priest” Rev. Harry Bury Honored for Global Peacemaking from Vietnam to Minnesota

Rev. Harry Bury (Left) and Rev. Jerry McAfee at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis. Photo – Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune.

For more than a half-century, 91-year-old Rev. Harry Bury has devoted his life to global peace activism, from volunteering as a human shield in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians — and subsequently being held hostage at gunpoint — to projects with Mother Teresa and protesting the Vietnam War.

According to Jean Hopfensperger, the Religion, Faith and Values reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, he now is taking aim at another mammoth challenge: introducing nonviolent solutions to stem unrest in the Twin Cities.

“I’ve wanted to live what I preach,” said Bury. “This [peace activism] is my philosophy of life and this is my life lived.”

For his decades of work in the nonviolence movement, Bury received an award Wednesday from the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests as a model of living his Catholic faith. The association, meeting in the Twin Cities this week, is an independent group of clergy whose priorities include fighting racism, promoting nonviolence and halting climate change.

“This is a guy who stepped out of a normal, expected role of a Catholic priest and became a tireless pursuer of peace and justice,” said the Rev. John Malone, a retired pastor and University of St. Thomas professor who introduced Bury at the awards ceremony. “And he put everything he had into it.”

The Star Tribune says Bury, who grew up in north Minneapolis, never set forth to lead a life of global activism and education. Ordained a priest in 1955, he was assigned to the University of Minnesota’s Newman Center by the 1960s. Many students opposed the Vietnam War, and over time he became convinced the war was “not only immoral, but a mistake.”

Bury eventually traveled to Vietnam to learn more about the conflict. In 1971 he was among four people who chained themselves to the gates of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon to protest U.S. involvement. Over the years he made more than a dozen visits to Vietnam, including one in 1972 when he was part of a delegation that escorted three American pilots who had been held hostage back to the U.S.

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SOURCE: Assist News Service, Michael Ireland