Sister Karen Peace Garden Dedicated, Blessed
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A sunny October day seemed fitting to honor Sister Karen Klimczak, SSJ, a religious sister who dedicated her life to tending to the darkest of hearts. On what would be her 67th birthday, SS. Columba-Brigid Parish in Buffalo opened and blessed the Sister Karen Klimczak Peace Garden.
“We have come to celebrate, to celebrate life, to celebrate love, to celebrate faith that so many of us have come to know in the person of Sister Karen Klimczak,” said SS. Columba-Brigid pastor and longtime friend, Father Roy Heberger. “We realize that, as we gather, this is a beautiful garden, a peace garden, in her memory. But what I want us to remember is that it is not just remembering the past; that is not why we put this together. We put this together using the memory of her life and her death, but to give hope and inspiration to the future.”
Sister Karen founded and managed Bissonette House, a home for recently released convicts. On Good Friday 2006, she was murdered by a resident searching for money to buy drugs. Knowing the dangers of her position, Sister Karen wrote a letter to the person who might someday kill her long before it actually happened.
The peace garden consists of four large stones baring the biography and writings of Sister Karen, along with her motto, “I leave peaceprints.” Five plaques, each containing five quotes from religious leaders, philosophers and artists about peace and love, lead up to the garden.
“I feel it’s a great privilege to celebrate the life of this great woman religious,” said Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, who blessed the garden.
Sister Karen Klimczak, was an untiring peace activist who provided the enthusiasm to keep many of our parish programs going and to attract a diverse but strongly unified and supportive congregation made up of Latino, Black and White.She cared about all people, regardless of ethnicity or creed. Her principal programs included the distribution of signs promoting peace and nonviolence, vigils in memory of homicide victims throughout the city, a prison ministry, and operation of Bissonette House at 335 Grider Street, a home for men recently released from prison.
She made her home at Bissonette House, and she called the parolees who lived there "my guys." Bissonette House was named in memory of the Rev. A Joseph Bissonette, a former administrator of St. Brigid's Church who was murdered in that house by a man he was trying to help.
Unfortunately, Sister Karen suffered the same tragic fate as Father Bissonette. The loss of Sister Karen plunged Ss. Columba-Brigid -- and indeed the whole city-- into a period of deep mourning.
Recognizing Sister Karen's forgiving spirit, however members of this congregation have kept her spirit alive and expect to carry the legacy of Sister Karen forward and serve the community for generations to come.
--Adopted from Ss. Columba-Brigid Church -A Brief History 2006
This page will always be dedicated to Sister Karen. We will have excerpts from her writings and poetry on a regular basis. Very soon we will also have the direct link to the website Karen's Peace Garden.