The third annual Cities for Life – a worldwide initiative to abolish the death penalty – will be Thursday, Nov. 30, in two locations of the diocese: The Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche at Mission Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine and St. Patrick Catholic Church in Gainesville. Both gatherings begin at 6:30 p.m. with a call for all churches in North Florida to ring their bells at 7:30 p.m. in solidarity to end the death penalty.

The Rome-based Sant’Egidio Community launched the first international “Cities for Life, Cities against the Death Penalty” in 2002.

Sponsored by the Prison Ministry of the Diocese of St. Augustine, the Cities for Life in Gainesville will feature five speakers:

  • Kathy Dillon – Daughter of a murder victim. Her father, Emerson was shot and killed in the line of duty. He was a New York State Trooper. Ten years later her boyfriend, David Paul, was also shot and left to die on a roadside.
  • Ron Wright, Jr. – The latest exoneree from Death Row at Florida State Prison.

He is a former police officer and military veteran.

  • Joseph Thornton, MD – A staff psychiatrist with the North Florida South Georgia Veterans Health System. Dr. Thornton served as a physician and psychiatrist on Florida’s Death Row and participated in executions. He says he has a specific responsibility to speak out against the death penalty and to put an end to medical
  • Sonya Rudenstine, J.D. – A sole practitioner in Gainesville, since 2006. She is devoted primarily to civil and criminal appeals, including the representation of death row inmates in state and federal post-conviction proceedings, and juvenile defendants facing life sentences.

In St. Augustine, the speakers include:

  • Darlene Farah – The mother of murder victim Shelby. She spoke at Cities for Life last year, but there have been significant and inspiring developments in the state’s case against James Rhodes who admitted to killing Shelby in 2013.
  • Professor Chris Moser – Assistant Director of the Pre-Law Program at Flagler College and has taught at Florida Coastal Law School and created and led the Wrongful Convictions Clinic. She has extensive experience working with death row
  • Nancy O’Byrne – The Board Chairwoman for Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (FADP). She also served for 13 years as the chair of the Justice and Peace Commission for the Diocese of St. Augustine.

For more information, call Deacon Lowell “Corky” Hecht at (727) 348-8794 or email checht@dosafl.com.

Click here to download event flyers.