Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, author of Dead Man Walking, will receive an honorary degree from Marquette University in ceremonies at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 8, in the Varsity Theatre, 1324 W. Wisconsin Ave. Prejean will provide personal remarks after the ceremony as the opening session for the Peace and Justice Studies Association national conference, hosted by Marquette’s Center for Peacemaking.
The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Tickets may be picked up on campus in the Brooks Lounge of the Alumni Memorial Union, 1442 W. Wisconsin Ave., Monday through Friday from noon to 11:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 11:30 p.m. Tickets are limited to two per person and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. The ceremony and speech are expected to take an hour and a half, with a reception and book signing to follow.
Prejean, a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, has been instrumental in continuing the national dialogue on the death penalty and helping to shape the Catholic Church’s opposition to state executions. Her book, Dead Man Walking, is based on her experience corresponding and counseling Patrick Sonnier, a death row inmate, who was executed in 1984. The book was nominated for a 1993 Pulitzer Prize and made the 1994 American Library Associates Notable Book List and was number one on the New York Times Best Seller List for 31 weeks. In 1996, the book was developed into a major motion picture which was written and directed by Tim Robbins and stared Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn.
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 in 2004.
Prejean’s visit is being co-sponsored by the Centennial Celebration of Women at Marquette University. In 1909, Marquette became the first Catholic university in the world to admit women alongside men into its regular undergraduate program. During the 2009-10 school year, Marquette will celebrate the anniversary of this landmark event with a year’s worth of activities, including an alumnae memory project, guest speakers and lectures, commemorative publications, and faculty, staff, student and alumni events.
Media wishing to speak with Prejean or to attend any of the PJSA conference should contact Andy Brodzeller in the Office of Marketing and Communication at (414) 288-0286 or email@example.com. The full conference schedule is available online.
About the Peace and Justice Studies Conference
The PJSA is a nonprofit dedicated to bringing together academics, K-12 teachers and grassroots activists to explore alternatives to violence and share visions and strategies for peace building, social justice and social change. The theme of the conference is “The Power of Nonviolence,” and speakers will address restorative justice for criminals, food access and distribution, the Gandhian tradition of nonviolence, the role of international organizations and nonviolence class curriculums. The conference is being co-sponsored by Marquette’s Center for Peacemaking and the Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies.
About Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies
The WIPCS is a consortium of private and public colleges and universities dedicated to enriching academic and public discourse on issues of peace and conflict. The Institute is non-partisan and encourages debate and discussion of multiple perspectives, not only of foreign policy issues and global areas of conflict, but also of intercultural communication, gender relations, and environmental sustainability. WIPCS office and Web site is hosted at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
About Marquette University’s Center for Peacemaking
The Marquette University Center for Peacemaking strives to empower the university and the wider community to explore the necessary skills to become informed, spiritually-centered, nonviolent peacemakers. Rooted in the Ignatian charism, the center works to explore the power of nonviolence by engaging peacemaking efforts in local, national and international communities.
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