Elkhart resident answers her calling and prays with those on death row
By MAY LEE JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Writer
ELKHART -- The mornings of executions are the roughest.
"On those mornings, I get up early to pray," the Rev. Wanda Callahan says. "I say something like, 'Jesus, God, help me. Don't let me fall apart.' "
Callahan has been ministering to men on death row for more than 30 years and has witnessed five executions, four in Florida and one in Indiana.
It never gets easier.
Kevin A. Conner, who was executed last week for killing three people in Indianapolis in 1988, didn't want any last-minute appeals or clemency from Gov. Mitch Daniels. He was the fourth person executed by the state so far this year; as many as eight might be executed by the end of the year.
Callahan takes the deaths personally.
"I remember the morning Scott Johnson was killed," she said. Gregory Scott Johnson was executed in May for the murder of Ruby Hutslar at Hutslar's Anderson, Ind., home."I was not his minister, but I talked with men who knew him, so I, too, felt like I knew him. On the morning of his execution, I just fell apart.
"My son James came in and found me a mess. I remember the words he said to me, 'Mom, don't cry. You can't save them all.'
"But I would if I could."
She knows many people don't identify with her quest.
"People ask me all the time," she says, 'Why do you even care about these murderers?'
"I tell people to go back to the Gospel. Look at Jesus. He cared about everyone and hung out with all kinds of people. If we call ourselves Jesus' disciples, we too have to keep ministering to so-called throwaways of today. And who is more thrown away in our society than the inmates on death row?"
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Monday, August 01, 2005
Minister of mercy
This interesting piece was published recently in the South Bend (Indiana) Tribune:
Posted by Unknown at 2:02 PM