Public talks planned during Sister Helen Prejean’s visit to DePaul University

Sister Helen Prejean
Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J., will offer a series of public talks throughout Chicago during her annual visit to DePaul University in late April. (Photo courtesy of DePaul University)
CHICAGO — Activist, author and anti-death penalty crusader Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J., will offer a series of public talks throughout Chicago during her annual visit to DePaul University in late April. In addition to donating her personal archives to DePaul, Prejean travels to the university each spring to interact with young people and students. “They energize me and get me charged up with their passion and their sense of inquiry,” she said. Prejean is the leading national voice for abolishing capital punishment. Her book “Dead Man Walking” helped fuel the anti-death penalty movement in the United States.

“My annual visits to DePaul have become a very special part of my year,” said Prejean. “Because I have dedicated my life to working with poor people and with people who are outcast, I feel right at home coming to this center of the Vincentian values of service to the disadvantaged and appreciation for the dignity of each and every person.”

Prejean began her prison ministry in 1981 when she dedicated her life to the poor of New Orleans. While living in a housing project, she became pen pals with convicted killer Patrick Sonnier who was sentenced to die in the electric chair of Louisiana’s Angola State Prison. Prejean often visited with him as his spiritual adviser. During those visits, she learned more about the Louisiana execution process and turned her experiences into the book “Dead Man Walking,” which became an award-winning movie.

“You’re fortunate here in Illinois because you no longer have the death penalty. But that’s no reason to think it’s a dead issue,” said Prejean. “Injustice isn’t limited by state borders and even in states like Illinois where you have moved beyond the barbarity of executing your citizens, there’s still so much that needs doing to help the entire U.S. abolish this broken system once and for all.”

Prejean returns to DePaul each spring to offer talks, conduct workshops and collaborate with DePaul faculty and students to advance work on behalf of those on death row. Read more about her connection with DePaul University at View a video at

Public Events

Book talk and Q&A session
Harold Washington Library, Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, 400 S. State St.
April 23 from 6 to 8 p.m.
For additional information, call 312-747-4252, 312-747-8191 or visit

St. Clement Parish speaking engagement
642 W. Deming Place 
April 26, mass at 11:15 a.m. and luncheon at 12:30 p.m.
For additional information, contact

Sunday Night DePaul University student mass
St. Vincent de Paul Church, 1010 W. Webster Ave.
April 26 at 8:30 p.m.
For additional information, contact

DePaul Humanities Center event on mass incarceration
Cortelyou Commons, 2324 N. Fremont St.
April 27 at 7 p.m.
For additional information, visit

Background Information

More information about Prejean at


Media Contact:
Jon Cecero​
(312) 362-7640