15th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Sister of Notre Dame de Namur Dorothy Stang to be Observed -- Her life and legacy to be celebrated at Cincinnati & Dayton events

Cincinnati, OH (January 17, 2020) — On February 12, 2005, Sister of Notre Dame Dorothy Stang was shot and killed by hired gunmen as she walked along a dirt road in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil.  Her death had been arranged by influential Brazilian landowners who wanted to stop her work on behalf of farming families in the region.  It was Sister Dorothy's dream for the people to live self-sufficient lives, and to be able to use the land in sustainable ways.  The native of Dayton, Ohio had been visiting with some of the struggling farmers in the interior when she was killed.  She was 73, and had given nearly 40 years of her life to the fight for the rights of the poor.

Now, during this 15th anniversary year (February 12, 2020 — February 21, 2021), Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, along with our associated schools and ministries, are pausing to remember Sister Dorothy's work and legacy.

To kick off the yearlong anniversary, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur are hosting special presentations in Cincinnati and Dayton featuring Samuel Clements from the film, The Student, the Nun & the Amazon. Guests will view the 30-minute film, then Samuel will share how his visit with Sister Dorothy and her defense of the rainforest and advocacy for the rights of the poor helped shape his current career helping create a sustainable and climate-smart society. A Q&A session will follow Samuel’s presentation.

The Cincinnati presentation will be held on Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. in Amiens Hall at the Mt. Notre Dame Convent, 699 E. Columbia Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45215. The Dayton presentation will be held on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. in Lampe Hall at St. Rita Catholic Church, 5401 North Main Street, Dayton, OH 45415.

Both presentations are free and open to the public.  However, due to space constraints, reservations are required for each event.  Reserve by January 30 by completing the online registration form at sndohio.org/sister-dorothy/anniversary-happenings or calling 513-679-8109 and leaving your name, event location, phone number and number attending. For questions or more information, please contact Teresa Phillips at 513-679-8180 or phillips@sndden.org.

About Sister Dorothy and her Work

Sister Dorothy grew up on a farm in Dayton.  Her family belonged to St. Rita's Parish and she attended Julienne High School before entering the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1948.  She was a member of the Ohio Province of the Sisters of Notre Dame, which is headquartered in Cincinnati.

In 1966, Sister Dorothy volunteered to join our Sisters in Brazil and for the rest of her life she worked with the poor, landless and indigenous people of the Para state of Brazil.   Deep in the Amazon rainforest, she educated the women about health and nutrition.  She helped them start small businesses to support their families, and showed the men which crops would grow best in the forest where they lived.   Sister Dorothy and the people opened one-room schools to teach the children and adults to read and write, and she insisted that every woman, man and child should expect to receive basic human rights.

At the time of her death, Sister Dorothy was working with the Project for Sustainable Development, a government initiative to help landless families benefit from sustainable farming systems.  The land was granted for the farms by the government, but it was highly coveted by the powerful ranchers and others who wanted the land for themselves.   Sister Dorothy's death came less than a week after meeting with Brazil's human rights officials about ongoing threats to local farmers from illegal loggers and ranchers.

A decade ago, Sister Dorothy had opened 39 schools in the hills and villages in Brazil.  Today there are 115 schools throughout the rain forest, with more opening all the time.  There were also 35 basic Christian communities that Sister Dorothy started – all committed to sustainable farming, working together and caring for one another.  Now, with help from Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Brazil and friends, more than 1,200 families live in 85 communities on government property given to landless families to build sustainable farms. 

Immediately after her death, Sister Dorothy was formally recognized by the Vatican as a martyr for the faith.  She has been honored around the world for her life and work, and was posthumously awarded the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights. 

For more information about Sister Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN





About the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur

The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur are an international congregation founded in Amiens, France in 1804.  In 2015, we celebrated our 175th year in the U.S., and our role in helping to shape the Catholic education system in the United States.  Today, more than 1,100 Sisters of Notre Dame serve across the U.S. and in Belgium, Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo, France, Great Britain, Haiti, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Peru, South Africa, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur change lives by making known God’s goodness.  Throughout the world, they are committed to education and take a stand with poor people, especially women and children in the most abandoned places.



Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur
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Angie Weisgerber, Communications Manager