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Dorothy Briggs, OP
Founder of For Whom the Bell Tolls

ST. CATHERINE, KY -- Many people are familiar with the phrase "For whom does the bell toll?," as well as the answer, "It tolls for thee." In the case of this campaign, the bells do toll for thee and for every person who is executed in this country.

Dorothy BriggsFor Whom the Bell Tolls (FWBT) is a national initiative of religious organizations throughout the country who toll their bells whenever there is an execution.

Sister Dorothy Briggs, OP, (Kentucky), the founding force behind this movement. died September 12, 2006 Sr. Dot was born on September 2, 1923, in Medford, MA. and entered the St. Catharine Community on September 4, 1947. She was professed as Sister Louis Mary on March 7, 1949.

After teaching for several years and studying art at the Pius XII Institute in Florence, Italy, in 1978, she asked if she could be an artist for ten years. Her request was granted. However, during these years she added several new dimensions to her life by working in prison ministry and social justice issues. Through the friendship she formed with a Walpole prisoner who sawed wood for her canvases, Dot became involved in prison ministry. She founded the Massachusetts chapter of Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), a national prison reform group, and she was active in a campaign to reduce the telephone fees charged to the relatives of prisoners.

But what she will best be remembered for is the national ecumenical campaign For Whom the Bells Toll that urges churches and other places of worship to toll their bells for two minutes at 6 p.m., on the day of an execution anywhere in the country. She organized this campaign from her kitchen table, asking her religious community to cover the cost of the stamps.

In 2004 Sr. Dorothy retired from her FWBT work and moved to the Motherhouse at St. Catharine, Kentucky. She said she wanted to go to St. Catharine’s “to paint, to pray and to die.”

Throughout her many and varied careers, Dot amassed hundreds of friends who loved her for her humor and intense involvement with the human race. Once Dot addressed a letter to Mother Teresa in Bombay, India, by drawing her picture on the envelope because she did not have her address! Today John Donne’s words can truly be applied to her, "never cease to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

For Whom the Bell Tolls has been taken up by CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants.) For more information, visit their website:

Related Links:

Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine, Kentucky

Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants, is a nation-wide grass roots organization dedicated to reducing crime through reform of the criminal justice system.

For Whom the Bells Toll urges churches and other places of worship to toll their bells for two minutes at 6 pm, on the day of an execution anywhere in the country. The project is now organized by CURE.

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