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  • NYS Writers Institute

Coming to the Albany Book Festival: Sister Helen Prejean

It's September 1 and that means it's Albany Book Festival month!

Our third annual Albany Book Festival kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 10, and runs through Sept. 24. Today we're featuring a profile on featured guest Sister Helen Prejean.

You may remember -- before the global shutdown -- Sister Helen had been scheduled to be our in-person guest for an event at the University at Albany way back on March 23. We're delighted to announce we've scheduled an interview and discussion with Sister Helen 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24.

This event will be presented live online; more information still to come on registering for this online-only event. 

Sister Helen's bestselling book about ministering to death row inmates, Dead Man Walking (1993), was adapted as a 1995 film starring Susan Sarandon (as Sister Helen) and Sean Penn. Her new memoir, River of Fire: On Becoming an Activist (2019), recounts her spiritual journey from praying for God to solve the world’s problems to engaging full-tilt in working to address societal injustices.

“Sister Helen Prejean is one of the great moral leaders of our time. Her superb new memoir, River of Fire, is the inviting and inspiring story of her early days as a Catholic sister. A born storyteller, Sister Helen leads you, with her fierce intelligence and lively wit, from her entrance into a novitiate that still practiced the traditional ways of spiritual formation, to the volcanic changes wrought by the Second Vatican Council, to the initial stirrings of understanding what ‘social justice’ meant in action. River of Fire is a book to read and treasure, and Sister Helen’s is a life to celebrate and honor.” Father James Martin, SJ, author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything.

While we await registration information for Sister Helen's event on September 24, we encourage her fans to order River of Fire through the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza:

You can also find out more about this amazing woman at, where you can listen to her Justice Train playlist that includes songs by The Roots, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman, Chance the Rapper, Bill Withers, and dozens more.

Below are a collection of video interviews featuring Sister Helen with Father Thomas Rosica, Bill Maher, and Amy Goodman.




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