For Whom the Bell Tolls

A Campaign to End the Death Penalty in the United States

"We oppose the death penalty not just for what it does to those guilty of heinous crimes, but for what it does to all of us: it offers the tragic illusion that we can defend life by taking life."

Most Rev. Joseph A. Fiorenza
President, National Conference of Catholic Bishops
U.S. Catholic Conference, 1999

On November 1, 2000, the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica joined with the Dominican Sisters of St. Catharine, Kentucky, and other cathedrals, monasteries, temples, synagogues, and churches in the United States as they keep watch and pray for those involved in the frequent executions that are taking place in our prisons. Our participation involves:

  • tolling our monastery bell for 2 minutes at 6:00 p.m. on every evening that an execution will be held;
  • using the media to explain to the people of Atchison why we are tolling our bell and what the tolling means for us as part of our Catholic commitment to respect all life;
  • remembering in our evening prayer all those concerned with the execution:
    • persons being executed and their families
    • the victims of crimes and their families
    • the state and prison employees who are carrying out the order of execution

We pray that this campaign will continue and spread across the country until there is a national moratorium or the abolition of the death penalty.

Some Background for the Campaign

  • The Vatican has arranged for the lighting of the Roman Colliseum for 48 hours to celebrate a stay of execution anywhere in the world.
  • Jaime Cardinal Sin of Manila asked Catholic Churches in the Philippines to toll bells the morning of the execution of citizens in that country.
  • Bishop Walter Sullivan of Richmond asked all diocesan churches and chapels with bell towers to toll their bells..."on the evening of every execution until we bring an end to this inhumane practice."

How You Can Join Us In Our Efforts

For more information contact: Sister Mary Agnes Patterson



Mount St. Scholastica Monastery & Bell Tower

Mount St. Scholastica monastery with its bell tower.