Sister Helen Prejean

October 24, 2016

Sister Helen Prejean, an Inspiration

There are so many inspiring people in the world.  One of my favorite things to do is listen to lectures online as I am getting ready for bed.  I love listening to inspiring and thought-provoking people.  Ever since the movie, Dead Man Walking was released I was mesmerized by Sister Helen Prejean.

Sister Helen was brilliantly portrayed by Susan Sarandon.  She won an Oscar for the role.  Sarandon was in the role, I think she would agree that Sister Prejean herself is leaps and bounds more interesting.  You see not only is Sister Helen Prejean an author but a determined activist. Even at over seventy years old spends nearly 300 days a year traveling and giving lectures to abolish the death penalty.  She is an outspoken activist who works with and fights for death row inmates.  Many she has grown to love and had to watch die.  The pain of that seems mind-boggling, but she continues to fight for what she believes in.

The Catholic Church

I grew up Catholic, but my relationship with the Catholic Church has been one that is a very conflicting one.  On one hand, I was raised in the religion that was so important to my mother.  But, it was the other that at the age of 18 had a priest tell me, along with my sister and brother who were 21 and 22 at the time that he wouldn’t have my mother’ s funeral at his church.  That wound cuts deep at a young age, and like any organization, it cannot be judged on the act of one, but it was the church’s position, and that experience is one that I have never forgotten.  My mother devoted her life to that church and it didn’t seem quite right.

My Story with Sister Helen Prejean

Over twenty years later, I encountered a hauntingly similar situation with my father.  I remember talking to my sister as she was raging against the church.  I understood her anger but I knew it was not that simple.

One evening I couldn’t sleep so I began listening to one of Sister Prejean’s lectures.  Her kind voice and simplicity is breaking down her argument sucked me in.  THIS is the Catholic Religion, not my experience, not one or two priests acting foolishly on old doctrine devoid of feelings.   That night I wrote Sister Prejean a long email, and to my surprise, she wrote me back,  Even with traveling the work 300 days a year and fighting to save the lives on those who need it most she made time for me.  I learned so much that night, about kindness, forgiveness and not allowing one or two bad experiences create a perception of a group.

Working with Sister Helen Prejean

Through that encounter, I was able to work with Sister Helen Prejean through social media and help her raise awareness to her work and abolishing capital punishment.