Sister Megan Rice of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison for breaking into and causing damage at a Tennessee nuclear weapons manufacturing facility.
The 83-year-old nun was accompanied in the July 2012 break-in by Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, all of whom are members of Transform Now Plowshares. The three had been convicted May 8, 2013, and received their sentences Feb. 18.
Walli and Boertje-Obed were sentenced to more than five years in prison, as they had longer criminal histories.
Sr. Mary Ann Buckley, leader of the American Province of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, said Feb. 18 that the order is “deeply saddened” by the length of Sr. Rice’s sentence.
“While the Society respects the judicial process and the court’s decision, we had hoped and prayed that Sister Megan’s age, health, and decades of service would have been considered.”
At her sentencing, Sr. Rice had asked the court to “please have no leniency with me.”
Sr. Buckley said Sr. Rice “has dedicated her life to helping others and working toward a more just, compassionate, and harmonious world.”
On July 28, 2012, the three protestors cut through security fences to enter the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, which enriches and stores uranium for nuclear weapons.
They hung banners and crime-scene tape, and hammered small chunks off a wall, spending about two hours in the complex before being approached by a guard.
They also sprayed baby bottles, filled with human blood, on the wall of the facility.
“Sister Megan and two others engaged in a peaceful protest, offering prayer for the thousands who have lost their lives as a result of nuclear weapons,” Sr. Buckley wrote in her statement.
Boertje-Obed said the human blood they sprayed on the facility was symbolic of “the blood of children (that) is spilled by these weapons.”
The three perpetrators said while testifying, according to The Associated Press, that they have no remorse for their act and were pleased to have reached such a secure part of the security complex.
Sr. Rice said “my regret was I waited 70 years. It is manufacturing that can only cause death.”
The three all indicated they felt “guided by divine forces,” the AP reported.
The statement also said that Sr. Rice believes, “with the Church,” that “nuclear weapons are incompatible with the peace so desperately needed throughout the world.” The religious community said at the time of Sr. Rice’s conviction that it does “not condone criminal activity.”
The order “has a history of standing up for those in need,” Sr. Buckley added. “We are committed to helping women, children and families by providing educational, spiritual, and social programs across four continents.”
Since the 2012 breach, security officials have introduced numerous security changes at the Oak Ridge facility.