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A giant in Southern California’s activist scene, Blase Bonpane, has died. He passed away on April 8th at the age of 89. Bonpane was the Director of the Office of the Americas. He started his adulthood at the Maryknoll Seminary where he became a priest and was assigned to work in Guatemala in 1966. There he realized the hypocrisy of a Church that wanted to ignore the underlying political causes of poverty and eventually left the seminary.

He went on to teach but was continually removed from his posts at various universities for his political organizing. He was often under surveillance by the CIA and FBI. After his marriage in 1970, to former Maryknoll Sister Theresa Killeen, the Bonpanes’ combined mission led them to found the Office of the Americas and organize and lead the 1985 International March for Peace through Central America.

Blase Bonpane was a programmer on KPFK for 50 years, hosting World Focus. He wrote a number of books including Guerrillas of Peace, Civilization is Possible, and Imagine No Religion.

He was an inspiration to many of us in the LA area. A few weeks ago Sonali had the chance to send him a note while he was in the hospital. She wrote, “Thank you Blase, for being such a light in our community and our world. Thank you for never giving up, for pushing through in the face of obstacles, for always retaining your humor, and for living by example.”

Today we remember Blase through his own words from an interview Sonali did with him in 2011 about his memoir Imagine No Religion.

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