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Anti-death penalty group will host awards dinner

 The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP)  will host its 26th annual Meeting and Awards Dinner at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 4, at Our Lady's Cathedral, 3214 N Lake. The event will feature longtime peace activist the Rev. John Dear as keynote speaker.  

The dinner will be in the Connor Center, adjacent to the church. A reception will be at 5:15 p.m. with a buffet dinner at 5:30 p.m. The program will begin at 6 p.m.

"We look forward with excitement to hearing Father John Dear's story of passionate activism,” said Connie Johnson, OK-CADP chair.

“His example will both inspire and challenge us to remain vigilant in our mission to end the death penalty in Oklahoma. We are blessed and honored to have him as this year's speaker for our 26th Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner."

The Rev. Don Heath, OK-CADP vice chair said, “We hope that Father Dear will inspire us in our efforts to bring about abolition of the death penalty in Oklahoma. He is a wonderful speaker and will share his experiences from his lifetime of work for peace and nonviolence.”

A priest and author, Dear is internationally recognized as a voice for peace and nonviolence. He served for four years as the Executive Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the largest interfaith peace organization in the United States, and helped to bring about the abolition of the death penalty in New Mexico by the state legislature in 2009.

Dear has been arrested 80 times while pursuing his activities for peace. He led Nobel Peace prize winners to Iraq, recently visited Afghanistan, and has worked for decades to end the death penalty, arranging for Mother Teresa to appeal to numerous governors to stop executions. 

He has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize, including by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski. He is the Outreach Coordinator for Pace e Bene, a non-profit organization that is committed to building a culture of peace and nonviolence. Now living in New Mexico, he is a priest of the Diocese of Monterey, Calif.

"The OK Death Penalty Review Commission Report just concluded that innocent people have been put to death on Oklahoma's death row.” Dear said.

“With that one statement, Oklahoma can never again execute anyone ever again. Of course, the death penalty is unfair, immoral, unjust, and racist. It's way too expensive. It doesn't bring closure or peace. But now we know it also kills people who have not hurt anyone. The time has come for Oklahoma to abolish the death penalty once and for all, as so many other states are doing."

Dear's 35 books include: The Beatitudes of Peace; The Nonviolent Life; Walking the Way; and Peace Behind Bars.  For more information, visit fatherjohndear.org.

The dinner program on Thursday will feature three Abolitionists Awards honoring individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary effort to end the death penalty in Oklahoma.  This year, OK-CADP vice chair Heath will receive the Phil Wahl Abolitionist of the Year Award, attorney Cathy Hammersten will be honored with the Opio Toure Courageous Advocate Award, and OK-CADP treasurer Mary E. Sine will receive the Lifetime Abolitionist Award. 

Individual tickets are $50; $15 for students.  To purchase tickets, contact Mary Sine at 532-5443, or visit okcadp.org.

Posted by Carla Hinton

Religion Editor

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