Sister Helen Prejean Sister
Helen Prejean is known around the world for her tireless work against the death
penalty. Her 1993 book, Dead Man Walking, ignited a national debate on capital
punishment and spawned an Academy Award winning movie, a play, and an opera.
Her most recently published book is River of Fire: On Becoming an Activist, and
she is currently working on her fourth book, Riding the Wild River.
Sister Helen Prejean is known
around the world for her tireless work against the death penalty. She has
been instrumental in sparking national dialogue on capital punishment and in
shaping the Catholic Church’s vigorous opposition to all executions. Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana,
in the 1930s, Sister Helen grew up in the segregated Jim Crow South. At the age
of 18 she joined the Sisters of St. Joseph. She worked as a high school teacher
and religious education director in New Orleans before moving into the St.
Thomas Housing Project in the early ’80s. In 1982, Sister Helen began
corresponding with Patrick Sonnier, who had been sentenced to death for the
murder of two teenagers. Two years later, when Patrick Sonnier was put to death
in the electric chair, Sister Helen was there to witness his execution. In the
following months, she became spiritual advisor to another death row inmate,
Robert Lee Willie, who was to meet the same fate as Sonnier. After witnessing these
executions, Sister Helen realized that this lethal ritual would remain
unchallenged unless its secrecy was stripped away, and so she sat down and
wrote a book, Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in
the United States. That book ignited a national debate on capital punishment
and spawned an Academy Award winning movie, a play, and an opera. Sister Helen’s second book, The
Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions, was published
in 2004; and her third book, River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey, in August,
2019. She is currently collaborating on a graphic retelling of Dead Man Walking,
to be published by Random House.
We are delighted to welcome Sr. Helen to speak to
us regarding her experience in standing for the life and dignity of all people.
All are welcome. This is a Zoom event. Please register in order to receive the