Sr. Helen Prejean, C.S.J., author of the best-selling book Dead Man Walking, will be speaking at the Mary McDowell Friends School, 23 Sidney Place, on Wednesday, May 15 at 7 p.m. St. Charles is co-sponsoring her talk, “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States”. Admission is $20. Books will be available for purchase, and Sister Helen will sign books after the talk.
In 1982 Sister Helen was asked to correspond with death row inmate Patrick Sonnier at Angola Prison. She agreed and became his spiritual adviser until his execution in 1984. She wrote about this experience in Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States. The book was on the New York Times bestseller list, the International bestseller list, and became an award-winning movie, an opera and a play.
Sister Helen, a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph since 1957, has been instrumental in sparking national dialogue on the death penalty and helping to shape the Catholic Church’s newly vigorous opposition to state executions. Sister Helen served on the board of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, as Chairperson from 1993–1995. She is a member of Amnesty International and an honorary member of Murder Victim Families for Reconciliation. She travels around the world giving talks about her ministry. Since 1984, Sister Helen has divided her time between educating citizens about the death penalty and counseling individual death row prisoners. She has accompanied six men to their deaths. In doing so, she began to suspect that some of those executed were not guilty. This realization inspired her second book, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions, which was released by Random House in December of 2004. Sister Helen is presently at work on another book – River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey.