Sister Peggy O'Neill To Address Class of 2012

April 17, 2012

BUFFALO, NY – Sister Margaret (“Peggy”) O’Neill, director of the Art Center for Peace in Suchitoto, El Salvador, will address the Canisius College undergraduate Class of 2012 on Saturday, May 19 at 11:00 a.m. during commencement ceremonies at Alumni Arena, on the SUNY at Buffalo campus. Approximately 832 degrees will be conferred at this time. 

Sister Peggy will also receive an honorary doctorate degree during commencement ceremonies, along with Peter andJoan Andrews, philanthropists; Robert T. Brady, chairman, Moog Inc.;Brian Concannon Jr., founder and director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and Richard Jeanneret, play-by-play broadcaster,The Buffalo Sabres.

Sister Peggy founded the Art Center for Peace in response to escalating human rights abuses, threats to democracy and lack of economic opportunity in El Salvador. The center builds a culture of peace through the arts. It offers music, English and computer classes and activities for children, all of which promote self-sufficiency in women and teach young people the skills needed to resist violence. 

Sister Peggy left a teaching position at Iona College in the mid-1980s to journey to El Salvador in the midst of its brutal civil war. She knew little Spanish but worked alongside the country’s displaced refugees to help farm their land, care for the sick and injured, and provide young children with an education in faith. This Sister of Charity endured violence and attacks, but never strayed from the mission of her congregation, which is to respond to the cries of the poor and marginalized, and walk in solidarity with the people they serve. More than 20 years after peace accords were signed in El Salvador, the country still struggles to build real and lasting peace. Sister Peggy also continues her ministry. 

As a formal educator of theology at the Center for Global Education in El Salvador, Sister Peggy, uses the wisdom of her experiences and intellect to inspire a new generation of students to pursue and promote justice. 

Each spring, the Canisius College Office of Campus Ministry sends a team of students, faculty and staff to work and serve alongside Sister Peggy. They learn directly from Salvadorans about their struggles through the civil war. The Canisius assembly also learns about the Catholic Church’s role in the struggle, the peoples’ search for justice and peace following the war, and the current situation in El Salvador today. 

For more information, contact the Office of Public Relations at 716-888-2790

Canisius College is one of 28 Catholic, Jesuit colleges in the nation and the premier private college in Western New York. Canisius prepares leaders – intelligent, caring, faithful individuals – able to pursue and promote excellence in their professions, their communities and their service to humanity.