Sister Helen Prejean in Nashville

Join us tonight for a free book reading and signing with Sister Helen Prejean, activist, educator and author, from 7:00 until 8:30 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral located at 900 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203.

Sister Helen is one of the best-known voices speaking against the death penalty in the United States and worldwide. Her books have reached people around the world and have helped engage millions of people in dialogue about state executions.

Born in 1939 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Sister Helen joined the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille in 1957 and in 1981 she dedicated her life to the poor of New Orleans, moving into the St. Thomas housing project. While living there, she became pen pals with Patrick Sonnier, the convicted killer of two teenagers, sentenced to die in the electric chair of Louisiana’s Angola State Prison. Upon Sonnier’s request, Sister Helen became his spiritual advisor. Her visits with him on death row opened her eyes to the Louisiana execution process.

Sister Helen turned her experiences into a book, Dead Man Walking, that made the 1994 American Library Associates Notable Book List and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize award. It was later made into an Oscar nominated movie starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, and into an opera. Her second book, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions, was published in December 2004. In it, she tells the story of two men, Dobie Gillis Williams and Joseph O’Dell, whom she accompanied to their executions. She believes both of them were innocent.

Since beginning her crusade against the death penalty, Sister Helen has witnessed six executions. In addition to visiting prisoners on death row and reaching out to murder victims’ families, she travels extensively, giving, on average, 140 lectures a year, seeking to ignite public discourse on the death penalty. She lives in New Orleans and works with the Death Penalty Discourse Network, the Moratorium Campaign and the Dead Man Walking play project.

Sister Helen will also be lecturing on Friday evening during an Education Symposium and dinner.  However, online ticket sales for that event are now closed. If you can’t make tonight’s event there is another opportunity to see her on Sunday, October 30 as she will be the guest preacher at Christ Church Cathedral and will teach the adult Forum class.

Photo courtesy of NCNJ

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