Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking hospitalized

Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking hospitalized
Source: Sister Helen Prejean Facebook

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Anti-death penalty activist, and author of Dead Man Walking Sister Helen Prejean has been hospitalized.

Prejean was diagnosed with pneumonia last week, and she remains hospitalized, according to a statement issued on her Twitter account.

The statement said she was responding well to treatment, but her doctors have said she won't be able to travel for six to eight weeks.

She will still make some appearances via Skype, and said that the illness was just a setback and an opportunity to inspire.

"It'll take something much more than pneumonia to prevent Sister Helen from continuing her work. She doesn't see this illness as a setback; she sees it as an opportunity to formulate new ways to broaden the conversation and inspire action around the death penalty," the statement read.

About Sister Helen Prejean: 

Prejean was born on April 21, 1939, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She joined the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille in 1957 (now know as the Congregation of St. Joseph) and received a B.A. in English and Education from St. Mary's Dominican College, New Orleans in 1962.

In 1973, she earned an M.A. in Religious Education from St. Paul's University in Ottawa, Canada. She has been the Religious Education Director at St. Frances Cabrini Parish in New Orleans, the Formation Director for her religious community, and has taught junior and senior high school students, according to her biography.

Prejean began her prison ministry in 1981 when she dedicated her life to the poor of New Orleans.

While living in the St. Thomas housing project, she became pen pals with Patrick Sonnier, the convicted killer of two teenagers, sentenced to die in the electric chair of Louisiana's Angola State Prison, according to her biography.

Sonnier became the focus of her best-selling book Dead Man Walking, which shed light on the Louisiana execution process.

In January 1996, the book was developed into a major motion picture starring Susan Sarandon as Sister Helen and Sean Penn as a death row inmate.

Sarandon won the award for Best Actress.

Learn more about Prejean here. 

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