Sr. Karen Klimczak, SSJ was dedicated to the cause of peace and nonviolence, with an emphasis on forgiveness. This is the subject of a half-hour special program produced by Daybreak TV Productions. The special is called Apostle of Peace, and celebrates Sr. Karen’s life and legacy. The program airs a year after her death and includes interviews with Father Roy Herberger of SS. Columba & Brigid, Sr. Jean Klimczak, OSF, and Sr. Rosalind Rosolowski, CSSF.
When talking about Sr. Karen there are mixed emotions. There is the joy her life entailed and also the sadness of her fate. "She lived, she didn’t teach, she didn’t preach, she lived the Pascal mystery; life, death and resurrection," Father Roy Herberger said.
Her death at the hands of one of the paroled convicts she ministered to at the Bissonette House in Buffalo was prophesized by her in a letter written some sixteen years before. These men she supported and consoled were not forgiven by the judicial system, or their families and friends, but Sr. Karen believed in second chances. "That’s why it was so important for her to be an instrument of forgiveness," said Fr. Roy.
In 1985 Sr. Karen began Hope House (later renamed Bissonette House) with the intention of helping guide these troubled people towards a brighter future. Even with the dangers inherent in such a mission she would not be deterred from her call to peace and forgiveness. Fr. Roy worked closely with Sr. Karen at the house, he remembers "No matter what the particular bond with the individual, she was really an inspiring, energetic ball of faith and love."
Her legacy remains, with the signs "I leave peaceprints" and "Nonviolence begins with me" all over WNY. Her message carries on with Bissonette House, named in honor of Rev. Joseph Bissonette, another proponent of nonviolence murdered in the same house about twenty years ago.