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January 16, 2006

Contact Bill Reese at 608-796-3708 or wjreese@viterbo.edu 

“FORGIVENESS – THE HUMAN POSSIBILITIES” VITERBO HUMANITIES SYMPOSIUM FEB. 4-7

LA CROSSE, Wis. – The author of the book Dead Man Walking and the subject of the movie of the same name, and a holocaust survivor who spent three years in a forced labor camp during World War II are the keynote speakers at the “Forgiveness – The Human Possibilities” Humanities Symposium at Viterbo University Saturday, Feb. 4 to Tuesday Feb. 7.

Sr. Helen Prejean has continued her work against the death penalty, founding the Moratorium Campaign, a group working to abolish the death penalty. In the movie version of Dead Man Walking, Susan Sarandon portrayed Sr. Prejean at a time in her life when she befriended a convicted killer sentenced to death row.

Gerda Weissman Klein lived happily in Poland until the Germans invaded in 1939. She lived in a ghetto until 1942, when she was separated from her family and sent to a forced-labor camp.

“We plan to raise the awareness of the human possibilities of forgiveness by examining all aspects of the subjects, including ideologically, religiously, culturally, politically, and personally,” said Bill Reese, symposium committee chairperson.

Klein will speak at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6 in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre. Sr. Prejean will close the symposium at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7 in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre. They will be joined by many other presenters who will examine the possibilities of forgiveness and what it could mean to humanity.

“The greatest things in life aren’t things, they’re people,” Reese said, “and one of the building blocks of all human relationships is forgiveness.”

The symposium schedule includes:

Saturday, Feb. 4

Copenhagen 7:30 p.m. Theatre department performance of the dramatic work Copenhagen in the Fine Arts Center La Croix Black Box Theatre.

Monday, Feb. 6

“The Christian Gift of Forgiveness – Questions and Answers” 9 a.m. in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre with Father Robert Cook, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Viroqua.

“The Amazing Grace of Being Forgiven – Questions and Answers” 10 a.m. in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre with Carl Koch, Viterbo Master of Arts in servant leadership director.

“Choices of the Heart – A Personal Journey of Forgiveness” 11 a.m. in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre with Lynn BeBeau, the widow of a murder victim.

Panel Discussion 1–3 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center lobby with symposium guests and chaplain Myron Olson and social worker Eileen Cleaver of Jackson Correctional Institution.

“Images of the Holocaust” 3 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center lobby. Photos and discussion with Bob Metcalf, area photographer.

Keynote Address 7 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre with Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissman Klein.

Tuesday, Feb. 7

“What if I Can’t Forgive? – Questions and Answers” 9 a.m. in the San Damiano Chapel with Virginia Pharr, Viterbo professor of religious studies and philosophy.

“Positive Psychological Affects of Forgiveness – Questions and Answers” 10 a.m. in the San Damiano Chapel with Patrick Barlow, Viterbo assistant professor of psychology.

“Stories on the Forgiving and Unforgiving Heart – Questions and Answers” 11 a.m. in the San Damiano Chapel with Shelley Justiliano, Office of Victims Services, State of Wisconsin.

“The Art of Forgiveness” 1 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center La Croix Black Box Theatre. Poetry, art, literature, and a dramatic reading.

Keynote Address: Dead Man Walking – The Journey Continues 7 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre with Sr. Helen Prejean. A book signing will follow the presentation.

 A free soup luncheon will be held from noon-12:45 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6 and Tuesday, Feb. 7 in the Reinhart Center board room. All events are free and open to the public. The symposium is sponsored by the Viterbo University School of Letters and Sciences. For a complete schedule of events visit http://www.viterbo.edu/academic/ug/sls/symposium/.

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