UIW, Catholic Organizations and Texas Advocates Unite for World Day Against the Death Penalty

October 5, 2023

Free, Public Events will Amplify Catholic Anti-Death Penalty Teachings

San Antonio – October 5, 2023 – The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW), in partnership with the Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN) and the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP), will hold a series of free, public events in San Antonio to mark the annual World Day Against the Death Penalty on Tuesday, October 10, 2023. Titled “United to End the Death Penalty,” the events include a prayer vigil, a dinner and a speaker panel that will promote the Catholic Church’s anti-death penalty teachings, amplify voices of those adversely affected by this unjust system and lament Texas’ impending execution of Jedidiah Murphy, which is also scheduled for October 10.

“Heeding the call of Pope Francis for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide, UIW is partnering with other organizations working to protect and uphold the sacredness of human life and dignity,” says UIW Associate Vice President of Mission & Ministry, Dr. Arturo Chávez. “This central tenet of our Catholic identity unites us with many people of good will from diverse cultures and religions. We hope the upcoming conference will strengthen the ties that unite us so we can continue to work together on critical issues of peace and justice.”

The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, the founders of UIW, experienced the murder of one of their members, Sr. Patricia Ann Kelley, in 1987. Realizing that the death penalty seemed incompatible with the Gospel, they took a corporate stance against the death penalty and continue to work for its abolition with both Catholic and humanitarian groups.

“We look forward to gathering in Texas as a Catholic community on World Day Against the Death Penalty to bear witness to the sanctity of all life, including the life of Jedidiah Murphy, who is scheduled for execution that very same day,” stated CMN Executive Director, Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy. “We pray that Mr. Murphy’s life will be spared, and that hearts and minds will be opened to our Church’s teaching that capital punishment is unacceptable in all cases.”

The ”United to End the Death Penalty” events are part of a three-leg Catholic college speaking tour organized by CMN to amplify Catholic opposition to capital punishment. Known as “Next Gen for Justice,” the tour included a stop at Loyola University New Orleans in September and an upcoming visit to Xavier University in Ohio in October.

“We are delighted that the Catholic Mobilizing Network selected San Antonio as one of the sites for its ‘Next Gen for Justice’ tour of college campuses,” said Kristin Houlé Cuellar, executive director of TCADP. “We need the next generation of Texas leaders to stand with us in advocating for an end to the death penalty!”

Individual event details for October 10 include:

Vigil for Jedidiah Murphy | 12-1 p.m.

--A public vigil will be held outside the San Fernando Cathedral in downtown San Antonio for Jedidiah Murphy, who is scheduled to be executed on the evening of October 10. The vigil will provide an opportunity for attendees to express solidarity and opposition to the death penalty.

Dinner | 6:15-8:30 p.m.

--A casual buffet meal will be held in the UIW Student Engagement Center ballroom on the UIW Broadway campus. This gathering will offer an opportunity for participants to connect, share experiences and join together in the fight against the death penalty.

“United Against the Death Penalty” Panel | 7-8:30 p.m.

--Three exceptional panelists will present their personal testimonies and research on the death penalty in Texas. The panel, hosted in the UIW Student Engagement Center ballroom on the UIW Broadway Campus, will provide a platform for discussion, education and raising awareness about the need to end capital punishment.

The panelists include:

Monique Coleman: Sister of a death row exoneree who tirelessly advocated for his liberation and reintegration into society.

Mitesh Patel: A San Antonio resident who passionately advocated against the execution of the man responsible for his father’s murder.

Dr. Doshie Piper: Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of the Incarnate Word.

MEDIA CONTACT: Michael Valdes, Media and Public Relations Manager, Office of Communications & Brand Marketing, (210) 829-6001, (210) 422-4052 or michael.valdes@uiwtx.edu