Helen Prejean
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Helen Prejean

Dead Man Walking

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About Her

Living... in a New Orleans convent in an inner city neighborhood.

Profession... nun and now spiritual advisor to a death row inmate named Matthew Poncelet. Scheduled to be executed for the rape and murder of two teenagers, Matthew wrote to Helen to help with his appeal since he can’t afford his own lawyer. As Matthew points out, “Ain't nobody with money on death row.” Helen will have her work cut out with Matthew; he is a racist, a trash-talker, and most likely a murderer.  

Relationship Status... developing a love for Matthew – a love like a mother has for a son. Although they seem like an unlikely pair, Helen points out one thing they have in common: they both live with the poor.

Challenge... standing by Matthew despite the criticism she gets from everyone else. The victim’s families are shocked that Helen would befriend someone who carried out such heinous crimes. But Helen believes that everyone deserves a chance for forgiveness, so she is trying to help Matthew come to terms with what he did. As she says, "I want the last face he sees in this world to be the face of love."

Personality... compassionate, courageous, and accepting. Although Helen is a religious official, she is not preachy at all. Her agenda is not to convert Matthew, but rather to accept him as he is and help him deal with his guilt. Indeed, it is a testament to Helen that she sees the good in Matthew; he is not an easy person to like – not to mention love. 

Helen Prejean's popularity ranking on CharacTour is #4104 out of 5,600+ characters. See our top-ranked characters and read their profiles.

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