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Northwest Missouri State University


News Release

Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun whose book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” inspired a major motion picture, will visit Northwest Feb. 15 as part of the University's Distinguished Lecture Series.

Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun whose book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” inspired a major motion picture, will visit Northwest Feb. 15 as part of the University's Distinguished Lecture Series.

Feb. 6, 2017

Distinguished Lecture Series to feature Sister Helen Prejean Feb. 15

By Lexi Ryan, media relations assistant

Northwest Missouri State University will welcome Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun and member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, in the Charles Johnson Theater at the Olive DeLuce Fine Arts Building.

Sister Helen Prejean will spend the day with students at the Conception Seminary before visiting the Northwest campus for her lecture.

“The opportunity to cooperate with the Seminary was part of why we chose her as a speaker,” Kenton Wilcox, the chair of the Distinguished Lecture Series Committee and an English instructor at the University, said. “She is also an internationally recognized voice, she has experiences that are not already represented on campus, and her topics address interdisciplinary concerns, all of which help the Distinguished Lecture Series address its mission.”

Sister Helen Prejean began her years at the Congregation of St. Joseph teaching religion to junior high school students. She then moved into the St. Thomas Housing Project in New Orleans, and worked at Hope House from 1981-1984. She considers herself a southern storyteller as she travels the world to talk about her ministry.

She also 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. She served on the board of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty from 1985 to 1995. She was the chairperson of the Board from 1993 to 1995.

Her book, “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” based on her correspondence with a death row inmate Patrick Sonnier at Angola, was No. 1 on The New York Times Best Seller List for 31 weeks. In 1996, the book was developed into a major motion picture starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn.

“We hope that those who attend the lecture walk away not only with insights both into this remarkable person and the complicated issue of justice before us, but thinking about other ways her model might reflect upon our development as moral and ethical rights,” Wilcox said.

The objective of the Distinguished Lecture Series is to enhance the academic environment through individual discipline and interdisciplinary topics. Supported by the Office of the Provost and the Office of Student Involvement, the series presents the Northwest campus and surrounding communities with opportunities to hear from extraordinary individuals from around the globe. Scholars, world travelers and leaders in their fields visit the Northwest campus to share their wisdom, insight and experiences.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468