Mercyhurst University and the Department of Religious Studies are pleased to announce this year’s recipient of the Archbishop Oscar Romero Award: Sister Mary Lou Kownacki, a Benedictine nun whose exemplary work includes founding Erie’s Inner-City Neighborhood Art House and serving as the national coordinator at Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement.
Kownacki will present her lecture, “Turned Into Fire,” on Tuesday, March 19, at 8 p.m. in Mercy Heritage Room, Sullivan Hall. The event is free and open to the public, and a reception will follow.
Mercyhurst presents the Romero Award annually to an individual or organization "living the call of faith and justice in an extraordinary manner." The award takes its name from the late archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, who died from an assassin's bullet on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass in San Salvador. Romero is remembered for his uncompromising commitment to the poor and oppressed of El Salvador.
In addition to her work with the Art House and Pax Christi, Kownacki served on the board of directors of Emmaus Ministries and works to revitalize local Erie neighborhoods with a special emphasis on supporting children.
Kownacki has authored several books on peacemaking and Catholic Social Teaching, including The Fire of Peace, The Nonviolent Moment: Spirituality for the 21st Century, Love Beyond Measure: A Spirituality of Nonviolence, and Between Two Souls: Conversations with Ryokan, which was honored by Spirituality and Health magazine as one of the most inspiring books of 2004.
Previous recipients of Mercyhurst’s Romero Award have included Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking; Sister Marilyn Lacey, RSM, founder of Mercy Beyond Borders; the Jesuit peace activist John Dear; and Erie’s L’Arche Community.
For more information, contact Thomas Forsthoefel, Ph.D., professor of religious studies, at 814-824-2353.