Megan Sweas

Writer, Editor, Student of Life



L.A. DASH Line Hit With Pro-Palestinian Protest

Published on, November 15, 2011
Live report aired on Annenberg Radio News, November 15, 2011

Palestin Freedom Rider ProtestSupporters of Palestinian rights brought a transnational protest home on the L.A. Metro DASH Tuesday.

About 20 activists boarded buses around 4 p.m. to raise awareness among riders that the company that runs DASH also operates in the Palestinian occupied territories.

“We believe when people…realize that the money they’re paying in taxes to the City of LA is being used to support corporations like this one that is profiting from racism and apartheid in Palestine, that people will raise their voices and tell the city of L.A. that they no longer want that kind of contract to happen,” said Garrick Ruiz, a volunteer with Boycott Divestment Sanctions-LA. …


L.A. Interfaith Gathering Commemorates 9/11 Victims

Published on, September 11, 2011

LA interfaith gatheringReligious leaders of a variety of faith groups honored the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in a Saturday-evening ceremony at Los Angeles City Hall with the aim of fostering interfaith activity for peace.

About 900 people, representing at least 218 Los Angeles-area congregations, gathered “not just to memorialize our victims,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in his opening remarks, but also to recognize the differences and similarities among religions, and pray for peace. …


Parks & re-Creation

Published in U.S. Catholic, April 2011

A group of young people in the Bronx finds that by beautifying an old eyesore, they’ve unleashed a desire to serve their community.

Youth Ministries for Peace and JusticeDavid Shuffler walks through the park that he helped build in the South Bronx on his way to work.

Grass and young trees line his path through Concrete Plant Park, named after the factory that was once on the site. Some of the old factory structures remain—but they’ve been transformed into public art.

On a sunny September afternoon, a young family sits in the grass, a boy casts a fishing line into the Bronx River below the promenade, and a few teens lounge in a reading circle, as Shuffler tours the park with part of his team from Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (YMPJ). Two of the teen workers, Shanay Sneed and Andre Rivera, approach their peers in the reading circle to tell them about YMPJ, the force behind the park.

“My greatest joy is to see people using this park,” says Shuffler, director of YMPJ. “That’s a reward. The environment definitely transforms and connects people just because of its beauty and what it does for your soul, and I think we see it right here.” …


PDF of “Parks & re-Creation”

Life on the line

Photo story published in U.S. Catholic, December 2010

Along with Karl W. Hoffmann’s photographs, an introduction and captions describe the many sides of border life—migrants’ hope, activists’ care, and residents’ concerns.

At the Kino Border Initiative on the Mexican side of the border in Nogales, Jesuit Father Peter Neeley prays with migrants deported from the United States. On Sundays he frequently presides at Mass on the U.S. side of the border, where many of the parishioners work for homeland security. “Most of them say that’s what you should do,” he says. “ ‘You’re doing what you’re supposed to do; we’re doing what we’re supposed to do.’ They don’t see a contradiction there.”

Fear, hope, tension, and solidarity all coexist in the midst of ordinary life at the border. …

PDF of “Life on the line”

Kenya rising

Photo story published in U.S. Catholic, March 2009

The growing Kenyan church responds to the challenges of a young democracy.

“Our mother, Kenya, we love you so much; we need you again,” sing the students at St. Joseph Freinademetz Primary School in Ruai, outside of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

In early 2008 Kenya abandoned her children. Continue reading “Kenya rising”

Greener pastures

Published in U.S. Catholic, May 2008
Honorable mention for investigative writing, Catholic Press Association 
Honorable mention for feature, Associated Church Press

How family farmers are planting for a sustainable future

Russ Kremer had a near-death experience in 1989. On his central Missouri farm, he was bitten by a hog and contracted a form of strep resistant to at least five antibiotics. His hogs’ feed included antibiotics to protect them—but not humans—from disease.

Doctors cured him, but Kremer decided to start his farm operation anew, raising hogs naturally.

Continue reading “Greener pastures”

Basic training

Photo story published in U.S. Catholic, November 2007

Catholic college students get schooled in peace and protest at the annual School of the Americas vigil.

Loyola students at SOA
Photo by Megan Sweas

“Close it down!” Patrick Eccles, a Loyola University Chicago chaplain, shouted to a group of 50 Loyola students about to embark on a trip to Columbus, Georgia to protest the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA). “Close it down,” they replied weakly, seeming unsure of their voices, mission, and comrades.

Three days and 830 miles later, the students stood in a tight circle, arms around each other, waiting to return home. After praying together—for the victims of the SOA, for the efforts to close it, and for the community formed over the weekend&mdashthey repeated the call and response. “Close it down!” they yelled unabashedly this time, turning other protesters’ heads.

The moment was spontaneous—”a positive way to keep people together” when the bus was late—says Rachel Hart, a chaplain and trip organizer. Yet after a transformative weekend that was part spiritual retreat, part social action, and part community building, it was an appropriate “sending forth.”

“There was a community and a spirit of the group that didn’t just end in Georgia,” Hart says. …


PDF of “Basic training” (includes photography)

Marked for life

Published in U.S. Catholic, July 2007

Former full-time volunteers confess that their experiences change them for good.

Volunteer for good“This feels like a homecoming,” Beth Knobbe told a retreat group of both new and familiar faces-30 of her fellow alumni from Amate House, a Catholic lay volunteer program in Chicago. Knobbe actually lived with just a few of the retreatants when they were part of the program. Most of the alumni on the retreat were more recent Amate graduates, including eight who had just completed their service year in 2006, 10 years after Knobbe had finished hers. Still, Knobbe immediately felt connected to these young adults, who knew what the full-time volunteer experience was all about.

“All of us can admit that an experience like Amate changes us,” Knobbe said. “We use that wonderful phrase ‘ruined for life,’ which is to say, ‘you will never be the same.'” …


PDF of “Marked for life”

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