Letter to Bishop Murry- New Emphasis on Death Penalty as Part of “Right to Life”

Dear Bishop Murry,

As women who are committed to the value of all of life, the Leadership Teams of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown and the Sisters of the Humility of Mary are pleased to see the new emphasis on the death penalty as part of the “Respect for Life” testimony of the Catholic Bishops.  And your own personal presence and witness to these values in the name of the Diocese of Youngstown are most inspiring.

It seems timely to suggest to you that our diocesan parishes could witness a larger, more visible perspective regarding capital punishment, as well as other forms of violence, if each parish in the diocese would “toll the church bells” at the same time on the days when a  person is scheduled for execution in Ohio.  The sisters know that this is already being done at St. Mary’s Parish in Warren, Ohio.  And we all realize that “when the bells toll,” in the words of the poet John Dunn, “they toll” not only for the one person being executed or violated but for all those who are responsible for  injuring or taking the lives of others.

In giving directions to the pastors, 11:00 am seems a good time to suggest for our corporate witness.  By this time we would know if there was a last minute stay of execution.  At our day with you and the other community leaders,  we could encourage our congregations who have bell towers to do likewise and also encourage our membership to write or visit those on death row.  Of course, we would need to give some instructions for doing so.

In a joint effort both the OSU’s and HM’s have supported and participated in Ohioans to Stop Executions, have brought the issue of the death penalty to the Dorothy Day Round Table and a few sisters have participated in a protest demonstration in Warren when Michael Beuke was executed.   We have written editorials on the issue of Capital Punishment for publication in the media, written to Governor Strickland and have encouraged our own sisters to write and visit those on death row.

Hopefully, working together with the Diocese of Youngstown, we can in some small way call others to a new awareness and respect for life that will reflect more visibly our Gospel values.

Thank you, Bishop Murry, for your consideration of the above request.  Enclosed are the dates scheduled in Ohio for executions over the next six months or so.

Sincerely in Christ,

Sister Nancy Dawson, OSU,  President

Sister Susan Schorsten, HM, President