Dr. Mike Gable
100 E 8th Street
Cincinnati OH 45202
(513) 421-3131 ext. 2630
Spirit of Sister Dorothy Stang Award
Dorothy Mae Stang, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur was murdered in Anapu, in the state of Pará, in the Amazon Basin of Brazil in February 2005. She was outspoken in her efforts on behalf of the poor and the environment.
Sister Dorothy was sent to Brazil in 1966 along with four other Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. In the early 70s, the Brazilian government offered land in the Amazon region to farmers who wished to move there. They were given land if they could develop it in a sustainable way. As they moved into the interior, Sister Dorothy followed the farmers, teaching them ways to live from the land while recycling the resources of the forest. Her ultimate dream was to have a certain area of the land designated as a federal reserve where the poor farmers would always be safe; where they could till the soil and establish their own income-producing businesses through sound, sustainable development. It was a simple dream with opposing consequences: while she was recognized globally for her work in defending the human rights of the poor, she became a target for those who wanted her work stopped. As threats to her life became more frequent and brazenly open, some suggested that it might be time for Sister Dorothy to leave Brazil. She disagreed. “I am grateful to Notre Dame for not asking me to leave,” she once wrote. “This shows we are aware of the needs of the poor. The Sisters have said they are worried about my safety. It is not my safety, but that of the people which matters.” For Sister Dorothy it was always about the people. Through the people her spirit and hope will forever live on.
On the morning of February 12, 2005, Dorothy and her friend Cicero, woke up early to walk to a community meeting to speak about the rights for the Amazon. Cicero, was delayed and was walking a bit behind Dot. As Dot walked, she was blocked by two armed men. They asked if she had any weapons, and she told them that the only weapon she had was her bible. She then read a passage from the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” Dot was murdered that day in that forest by those men, while she read to them from the Holy Gospel.
In 2010, in honor of the 5 year remembrance of her murder, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the Archdiocesan Offices of Archdiocese of Cincinnati Offices for Mission, Catholic Social Action, Youth Evangelization & Discipleship, Young Adult Evangelization & Discipleship, and Evangelization & Discipleship initiated the Spirit of Sister Dorothy Stang Awards.
In light of the Holy Father’s Laudato Si, we have updated the award. For our application and enhanced criteria, please download the proper application: