DePaul’s new social justice archive shows how ‘action liberates’ The archive hosts growing collection of papers and artifacts of Catholic activists.

A new exhibit includes materials having to do with the book Dead Man Walking and the making of the movie of the same name. They were provided by the book’s author, death penalty abolitionist St. Joseph of Medaille Sr. Helen Prejean, and they serve as a gripping introduction to the university’s newly opened archive, “Social Justice Collections.”

Prejean, who was on campus for several days in May to officially open the collections, is certainly one of the best-known, still busy figures who have agreed to have their papers archived at DePaul in a collection that is decidedly marked by Catholic activists of the Vatican II era. In many cases there is a seamless overlap with the civil rights and Vietnam War eras. For many, those periods are inextricably linked, the Second Vatican Council providing the framework for ordained and lay alike to exercise faith in a new and public way; the civil rights and Vietnam War eras waking up moral muscles that had remained dormant prior to the mid-1960s ecumenical council.

Vincentian Fr. Edward Udovic, secretary of the university and senior executive for university mission, has been involved in establishing the collection, which he said was the result of opportunism. For instance, someone in the ministry department was very close friends with the Jesuit poet and antiwar activist Fr. Daniel Berrigan. His papers had already been spoken for but the connection led to DePaul obtaining a portion of the archives of Berrigan’s late brother and fellow activist, Philip, and those of Philip’s wife, Elizabeth McAlister.

A Vincentian who was translating some of the work of the late Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador led to a connection with Romero biographer Jesuit Fr. James R. Brockman, and DePaul’s obtaining Brockman’s research and documents dealing with the biography.

See full story at NCR Online.


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