|Ice on convent window|
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.”
Few of us will remember with any clarity the names Patrick Sonnier or Robert Willie from the 1970’s—80’s era. In her publication Dead Man Walking, Sr. Helen Perjean, a young Catholic nun wrote a pen-pal letter to an inmate on Louisiana death row in Angola Prison—he wrote back. Patrick Sonnier was later put to death by the electric chair, but not before Sr. Helen had fostered in him a sense of dignity and hope in a God who cares for us all.
Still later she became spiritual advisor to inmate Robert Willie, pleading his case at a Prison Board hearing, only to have it turned down. Her no nonsense yet hospitable manner persuaded Robert that he too can die with integrity and hope with a new found faith in Christ.
Sr. Helen went on to minister to the families of victims or rape and murder, promote Amnesty International to abolish the death penalty around the world. Her own suffering and anguish through all this, balanced by faithful prayer is her constant strength as she continues to this day the work she started.