Tom Cornell

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The Reverend Mr.

Tom Cornell
Born(1934-04-11)April 11, 1934
DiedAugust 1, 2022(2022-08-01) (aged 88)
EducationFairfield Univ AB 1956; Univ of Bridgeport, MS Sec Ed 1962; Fairfield DLH hc 1990
OccupationPeace activist, poverty worker
Known forOrganizing the first demonstration against the war in Vietnam, July 16, 1963, and the first corporate act of resistance to the Vietnam draft, November 6, 1965, both in New York City.
Movement Catholic Worker Movement

Thomas C. Cornell (April 11, 1934 – August 1, 2022) was an American journalist and a peace activist against the Vietnam War and the Iraq War. He was an associate editor of the Catholic Worker and a deacon in the Catholic Church.


Early life and education

Cornell was born on April 11, 1934, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. [1] He went to Fairfield University, then Fairfield College. While at Fairfield, he read The Long Loneliness , the autobiography of Dorothy Day, which inspired him to join the Catholic Worker movement. [2]

Catholic Worker

In 1953 when Cornell was 19, he joined the Catholic Worker community in New York, where he served those in need at Maryhouse and St. Joseph House, two Catholic Worker locations in the East Village of Manhattan. He became a writer and editor for the Catholic Worker newspaper. He was the managing editor of the newspaper from 1962 to 1964. [3] Dorothy Day gave him the job just as she was leaving on a trip to Cuba, telling him "You'll figure it out." [4]


The Vietnam War

Cornell led the first protest against the Vietnam War, which started with only two people from the Catholic Worker, himself and Chris Kearns, on July 16, 1963, in Union Square in New York City. In ten days their protest grew to 250 and was the first nationally televised Vietnam War protest. [5]

As US military engagement was intensifying in Vietnam, Cornell founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship with Jim Forest in which they worked counseling Catholic conscientious objectors to the Vietnam War, before going on to counsel anyone with draft issues with the aid of Center on Conscience & War, an organization dedicated to defending and extending the rights of conscientious objectors, claiming a "very high" success rate. [6] He also called the first corporate act of resistance to the Vietnam draft, when he and five others, including David McReynolds, burned their draft cards, November 6, 1965, in Union Square, New York City. [7]

In 1967, Cornell signed a public statement declaring his intention to refuse to pay income taxes in protest against the U.S. war against Vietnam. [8] Later, he became a sponsor of the War Tax Resistance project, which practiced and advocated tax refusal as a form of protest against the war. [9]

In 1972, Cornell took part in a meeting which led to the establishment of Pax Christi. [4]

During his years of activism, Cornell was a member of the executive staff of Fellowship of Reconciliation, the executive committee of Pax Christi USA, the War Resisters League, and the Workers' Defense League. [10]

The Iraq War

He continued in his opposition to the Iraq War, having visited that country before the invasion in December–January 2003 and again after in 2004. His reports were published in The Catholic Worker. He urged that military chaplains be trained in the law regarding conscientious objection and give positive support to claimants. [6]


In 1988, Cornell was ordained a deacon in the Archdiocese of Hartford. [4] At the Fourth World Congress in 2000, he served as Pope John Paul II's deacon at a Mass of Christ the King in St. Peter's Square. [10]

Later life

In his retirement, he lived with his wife Monica at the Peter Maurin Farm in Marlboro, New York. [3] [11] He died at the age of 88 on August 1, 2022, [1] [3] at a nearby hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York. [2]


See also


  1. 1 2 "Tom Cornell, Catholic worker and Dorothy Day lieutenant, dies at 88". August 3, 2022. Archived from the original on August 4, 2022. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  2. 1 2 Catholic News Service (August 6, 2022). "Deacon Tom Cornell, longtime Catholic peacemaker and activist, dies at 88". Crux . Retrieved August 6, 2022.
  3. 1 2 3 Catholic News Service (August 2, 2022). "Deacon Tom Cornell, longtime Catholic peacemaker and activist, dies at 88". Northwest Catholic. Seattle: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle. ISSN   2333-1070. OCLC   857232466. Archived from the original on August 3, 2022. Retrieved August 3, 2022.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "R.I.P. Tom Cornell, prophet of peace and lifelong friend of the Catholic Worker". America Magazine. August 4, 2022.
  5. Service, Catholic News (August 4, 2022). "Deacon Tom Cornell, longtime Catholic peacemaker and activist, dies at 88".
  6. 1 2 Cornell, Tom (November 17, 2008). "The Chaplain's Dilemma: Can pastors in the military serve God and government?". America Magazine. Archived from the original on February 23, 2021. Retrieved August 6, 2022.
  7. Chantikian, Joseph (February 2, 1969). "Prisoners of Conscience". The New York Times . Archived from the original on July 23, 2018. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  8. "No Income Tax For War!" archived at Horowitz Transaction Publishers Archive Archived July 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  9. "A Call to War Tax Resistance" The Cycle May 14, 1970, p. 7
  10. 1 2 "Tom Cornell, Catholic worker and Dorothy Day lieutenant, dies at 88". August 3, 2022.
  11. Sheridan, Wayne (September 1, 2014). "Farmer, Anarchist, Catholic". Commonweal . New York: Commonweal Foundation. ISSN   0010-3330. OCLC   644114851. Archived from the original on April 18, 2021. Retrieved June 16, 2021.

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