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A Pledge to Fight for Non-Violence

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Three weeks after the tragic death of Sister Karen Klimczak, the community is pledging to carry out her mission to promote non violence.

The Interfaith Peace Network brought together a cross section of local religious, community and political leaders in a garden behind the Bissonette House on Grider, where Sister Karen lived and worked.

They all joined as one, vowing to carry the nun's message of non-violence throughout the community. As part of her work, Sister Karen created "Non Violence Begins with Me" and "I Leave Peace Prints" lawn signs, featuring a white dove to symbolize peace.

Presbyterian minister John Long says Sister Karen lived and died standing against violence. "By picking up these signs, and stepping along in her shoes and shadow, is our tribute to her," said Long.

Father Bob Gebhard, chairman of the board of the Bissonett House, says there was almost no discussion after the nun's death about whether or not her ministry would continue.

"It seems fitting, that out of the tragedy and the darkness of the past moments , the death of Sister Karen is already arising her spirit of peace," said Father Gebhard.

Each of the many religious, political and community leaders were handed the non violence signs to place on lawns throughout the area. That included a religious leader from the Muslim Community, the Western New York Area Labor Federation and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

"I want you to know that one of those signs is in front of my home. And I will proudly take two more of these signs today, one to display at my City Hall office, and the other to pass along to some one else," said the Mayor.

Buffalo Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson says he pledges that the efforts of the City police department will be geared to reduce acts of violence.

An Erie County grand jury indicted 36 year old Craig Lynch for the death of Sister Karen. Lynch was on parole, living at the Bissonette House.

Lynch appeared in County Court on Thursday where he pled not guilty during his arraignment on charges of first and second degree murder and second degree burglary.

Authorities say it is alleged that while in the course of robbing Sister Karen, Lynch intentionally killed her by beating and strangling her. Police Commissioner Gipson says he felt the charges were very appropriate.

"In a sense, I understand and know he did not start out with a plan in mind to cause her death, but as a result of his actions he did cause her death," said Gipson.

If convicted, Lynch could face a maximum prison term of life without parole.