by Anne Stricherz '96
Since 1883, the University of Notre Dame has awarded the Laetare Medal to those “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” Notably, many recipients are those working to uphold and promote the life and dignity of the human person, the shared theme of Our Hearts Forever this year.
The 1996 Laetare Medal recipient was a woman whose message speaks to our country and our world ever more poignantly. It’s likely that those in attendance at the 151st commencement exercises will remember the fiery and passionate woman, Sr, Helen Prejean, CSJ. As a member of the graduating class of 1996, I was fortunate to hear her call for justice, for equality and for mercy for those on death row.
If you’ve been following along on the NDWC Facebook page, you may have seen a link to an article about Sister Helen by Lisa Greey Lytwyn, who writes about the lasting impact of Prejean’s work.
We honor our newest alumnae in the Class of 2020 with the hope and belief that they will enter our fractured world as “Forces for Good” - ones who work for life and dignity of the human person. During their Commencement Exercises over Memorial Day Weekend 2021, Kathleen McChesney, 2020 Laetare Medal recipient, offers a clear example of how to live and work guided by this principle.
A former FBI executive assistant director and a leading expert in addressing the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse and coverup crisis, “McChesney has emphasized the necessity of listening to victim-survivors, independent and professional investigations of abuse, transparency regarding cases of abuse and offenders, and thorough screening for clergy and laypeople involved in Catholic ministries.”
Let us pray that we listen and hold institutions and one another accountable when and where human dignity is challenged and compromised.
Our Hearts Forever was launched in January 2020 as a way for alumnae to share the journey of faith and action. Please follow our Facebook page for updates and resources, and revisit April’s installment here.