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Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Healing Journey

Winding down after two weeks of action across Texas, the "Journey of Hope... From Violence to Healing" - a group primarily comprised of murder victims' families who are opposed to the death penalty - recently brought its message of forgiveness to Austin. The group of about 60 attracted dozens and sometimes hundreds of local curiosity-seekers and capital punishment opponents to its events, which included a protest of the execution of Clifford Boggess June 11, a march and rally from Huston-Tillotson College to the steps of the Capitol, and several appearances by Sister Helen Prejean, the Louisiana nun whose book, Dead Man Walking, inspired the Academy Award-winning movie.
Prejean drew a standing-room-only crowd to St. Luke's Catholic Church on June 12, where she told the crowd that the death of a murderer is never just compensation for the loss of a loved one. "Watching a person die, when you have lost the universe that cannot be replaced, what can it do for you?" Prejean, who has witnessed the deaths of several inmates to whom she served as spiritual advisor, called the act of execution "an act of despair."
On Saturday, June 13, Prejean led about 200 death-penalty opponents through the wilting midday heat to the Capitol, where they were joined by musician Steve Earle and death-penalty abolitionist Marietta Jaeger, whose 7-year-old daughter was murdered in 1973. Jaeger explained to the crowd her reasons for forgiving her daughter's murderer. "I feel that I better honor my little girl by saying that all of life is sacred," she said. "Anybody who thinks that forgiveness is for wimps hasn't tried it. It takes diligent, daily discipline, but it's worth it." Founded by Indiana resident Bill Pelke, whose grandmother was murdered in 1985, the Journey of Hope began as a project of Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation. For more info call 1-800-973-6548. - E.C.B.