Fearless Feminist Saints

Religious women, living and dead, who refused to let men dictate how they lived their lives.

Sr. Ardeth Platte, O.P: Anti-Nuclear Activist and the Nun from Orange is the New Black

Ardeth Platte was born in Michigan in 1936, educated at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids before entering the Dominican Sisters in 1954. After her formation, Sr. Ardeth never stopped advocating for marginalized. Her work includes: 

  • The founding of the St. Joseph Alternative Education Center in Saginaw in 1967, a school which educated inner city children who had been rejected from other schools.
  • In 1976, Sr. Ardeth was a member of the Women’s Leadership Conference in Saginaw. Because of this Conference, a Rape Crisis Center and a home for women who were abused were founded
  • The founding of the Home for Peace and Justice, which seeks to educate about the connections between poverty, injustice, and the growing militarism of the United States.
  • The peaceful protest with fellow Dominican Sister Carol Gilbert against the Wurtsmith Airforce Base in Oscoda, MI, which deployed bombers with nuclear warheads. The base closed. 
  • The peaceful protests against K.I Sawyer Airforce Base in Gwinn, MI, which also closed.

On October 6, 2002, Sr. Ardeth, Sr. Carol Gilbert, and Sr. Jackie Hudson, broke into an unmanned Minuteman III missile site in Colorado. Armed with box cutters, a hammer, and several baby bottles filled with their own blood, they painted crosses of blood on the silo. Sr. Carol was sentenced to 30 months in prison, while Sr. Ardeth was sentenced to 41 months. Sr. Jackie was also imprisoned. She later broke into the Oak Ridge facility, was imprisoned, but was allowed to return home to die (she died in August of 2011). The three were branded as “terrorists” and placed on a national watch list, all for telling the truth about the horror of nuclear weapons. 

Most people probably know about Sr. Ardeth Platte from Orange is the New Black. The character of Sr. Ingalls is based on her. 

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