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Sister Helen Prejean on Dead Man Walking: Opera, Activism, and Faith

Friday, September 22, 2023, 67:30 p.m.

Church of St. Paul the Apostle
405 W 59th St
New York, NY 10019
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Catholic nun and death penalty opponent Helen Prejean will join both the composer and lead singer of the Metropolitan Opera’s new production for an evening of conversation.

Dead Man Walking is Sister Prejean’s bestselling 1993 memoir chronicling her ministry to death row inmates and the families of their victims. In 1995, her book was adapted for the screen and became an Academy Award-winning film. And in 2000, Dead Man Walking premiered as an opera—the most widely performed new opera of the last 20 years.

This fall, the opera makes its premiere at the Metropolitan Opera. In anticipation of that opening, Sister Prejean will join composer Jake Heggie and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato—who portrays Sister Prejean—at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle for a conversation about the opera and the roles art and faith play in galvanizing social action.

The occasion of this production is especially propitious as Pope Francis has declared the death penalty “inadmissible” under Catholic teaching. At the same time, some states are ramping up efforts to schedule executions even as more death row inmates are exonerated or questions are raised about their convictions. This gives the campaign against capital punishment even greater urgency.

Fordham University president Tania Tetlow will introduce the evening’s guests, and the Center on Religion and Culture’s director, David Gibson, will moderate the discussion.

This event is a partnership with the Church of St. Paul the Apostle and the Metropolitan Opera.