Editor's note: Ethan Heicher's title has been corrected.
Sister Helen Prejean’s soft-spoken words floated across Alumni Hall at Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Wednesday morning.
“‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ Jesus said, and as a beginner nun I tried earnestly to love my neighbor: the children I taught, their parents, my fellow teachers, my fellow nuns,” she said. “But for a long time, the circle of my loving care was small and, for the most part, included only white, middle-class people like me. But one day I woke up to Jesus’ deeper challenge to love the outcast, the criminal, the underdog. So I packed my stuff and moved into a noisy, violent housing project in an African-American neighborhood in New Orleans. … I changed from being a nun who only prayed for the suffering world to a nun with my sleeves rolled up, living my prayer.”
Award-winning radio producer Dan Gediman stopped the audio recording he’d been playing for Ivy Tech students, faculty and staff. And for a moment, Alumni Hall fell silent.
In the past eight years, 150,000 people from more than 100 countries have submitted essays to Gediman for the “This I Believe” project. Prejean’s might be his favorite.
Not only does Prejean examine what she believes, she also takes a look at whether she is living those beliefs, he told the students.
Gediman said that’s the whole point of the project.
Edward R. Murrow launched the “This I Believe” radio program in 1951 at a time when people were scared and confused.
“We hardly need to be reminded that we are living in an age of confusion,” Murrow said during the program’s first broadcast. “A lot of us have traded in our beliefs for bitterness and cynicism, or for a heavy package of despair, or even a quivering portion of hysteria. Opinions can be picked up cheap in the marketplace, while such commodities as courage and fortitude and faith are in alarmingly short supply.”