The Catholic Commission of Wayne, Ashland and Medina, the regional social action organization of the Diocese of Cleveland, has named John and Dorothy Stratton as recipients of the 2008 Michael Berken Peace and Justice Award. They are singular catalysts for peace, social justice, and health care who have launched organizations impacting the lives of many in the Ashland community and region.
As the case was being made for the invasion of Iraq in the fall of 2002, the Strattons, professors at Ashland University, began to answer with a weekly witness on one of Ashlandâ€™s busiest intersections. They held up a sign that read, â€œWar is not the answer.â€ As more citizens came to join with them, they all began asking the question, â€œIf war is not the answer, what is the answer?â€ They and members of the community were galvanized to answer by volunteering to produce unique programs with the aid of Ashland University, a news release said.
Over several years, they presented a series of thought-provoking programs around themes of nonviolence and justice, with nationally known speakers such as Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas Gandhi; Yolanda King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Jim Wallis; Howard Zehr; and Sister Helen Prejean.
The Ashland Center for Nonviolence grew out these pioneering initiatives, the work of community volunteers and the Strattons. It has addressed issues such as restorative justice, the death penalty, the Amish response to the Nickel Mines incident, programs for social workers and judges and an ongoing range of social justice subjects for its local and extended communities.
Additionally, the Strattons have given their deep commitment (Dorothy serves as president and John as secretary-treasurer) to the Ashland County Oral Health Services Inc. and its recently opened Ninth Street Dental Center that provides dental services for lower income community members.
The criteria of the Michael Berken Peace and Justice Award require that one demonstrate a strong commitment to justice in harmony with biblical values; be a positive force for systematic change within the community; respond in the biblical tradition to those who are victims of injustice through advocacy, community development, etc.; and exhibit a personal lifestyle that reflects a spirit of solidarity with the poor.
John and Dorothy Stratton have demonstrated, by the practice of their lives, a call that comes out of the quiet of their Quaker spiritual practice, and yet is so forcefully present in the breadth of their works. The Catholic Commission bestows this award to honor their lives of visionary leadership and work.
The Strattons will receive the award at the 22nd annual Harvest of Justice Gala Dinner and Auction at 6 p.m. Nov. 7 at Sacred Heart Parish Hall, 260 Broad St., Wadsworth. Tickets are $25; $15 for students. For reservations and information, call Pat Oâ€™Bryan at 330-263-6176.