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Former Nun Reflects On The Sanctuary Movement

Darlene Nicgorski

Darlene Nicgorski was a nun when she was convicted of conspiracy and faced a 25-year prison term in the 1980s for her work helping Central American refugees. She didn’t end up having to serve that term, but her work in the so-called Sanctuary Movement made her the poster child of immigrant activism in the 1980s.

“I supposedly was speaking for the voiceless,” she told host Frank Stasio on The State of Things. “Because often the Central Americans couldn’t tell their own story.”

Nicgorski eventually left the convent and settled in Chapel Hill, where she continues to advocate for social justice.

“What can we do so everybody in the world can have a better lifestyle?” she asks.

Though she is no longer a member of the Catholic sisterhood, she does have opinions on the current state of Catholic politics, particularly when it comes to issues like the recognition and acceptance of homosexuals.

“I do think that it’s a human institution,” she said of the Catholic Church. “And I do think there is somewhat of a power perspective that is keeping the church stuck.”  

This segment is a rebroadcast. It originally aired December 10th, 2012.

Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.