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Mercyhurst to honor Sister Simone Campbell with Romero Award

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mercyhurst University and its Department of Religious Studies will present the 21st Archbishop Oscar Romero Award this spring to Sister Simone Campbell, author of the “nuns’ letter” that helped pass the Affordable Care Act.

Sister Simone will visit Mercyhurst Wednesday, March 26, to accept the award and speak about Peace & Justice in the US at 7 p.m. in Walker Recital Hall. Her talk is free and open to the public.

As executive director of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby, Sister Simone lobbies on issues of peace-building, immigration reform, healthcare and economic justice.

During the 2010 congressional debate about healthcare reform, she wrote the famous nuns’ letter supporting the reform bill and got 59 leaders of Catholic Sisters to sign on. This action was cited by many as critically important in passing the Affordable Care Act.

In 2012, she was also instrumental in organizing the “Nuns on the Bus” tour of nine states to oppose the “Ryan Budget” approved by the House of Representatives, which they believed would decimate programs meant to help people in need. The following year, she led another cross-country Nuns on the Bus trip that focused on comprehensive immigration reform.

Sister Simone has often been featured in the national and international media, including recent appearances on 60 Minutes, The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

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.

The first award, in 1991, honored peace activist Fr. Daniel Berrigan. Since then the award has been presented to a wide range of leaders in the peace and justice movement, both in the Erie community and on the national/international stage. Previous recipients have included Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking; Sister Marilyn Lacey, RSM, founder of Mercy Beyond Borders; Jesuit peace activist John Dear; Erie’s L’Arche Community; and Sister Mary Lou Kownacki, former director of Pax Christi and a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization in Erie.

For more information, contact Daniel McFee, Ph.D., chair of the religious studies department, at 824-3607.