Sister Peggy O’Neill set to deliver Marquette Commencement address in May

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Marquette University

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Marquette University alumna Sister Margaret “Peggy” O’Neill, S.C., will be the keynote speaker at Marquette University’s 134th Commencement ceremony, Sunday, May 17. Sister O’Neill is the founder of El Centro Arte Para la Paz in El Salvador, an agency dedicated to helping the country’s poor and marginalized.

In his formal invitation to Sister O’Neill, Marquette President Michael R. Lovell called her a “superb role model for our graduates, someone we would be proud to present as an illustration of the principles of intellectual and moral excellence that Marquette proclaims,…[and one whose] work and tireless service to our human family have significantly improved the lives of countless people in El Salvador.”

In 2006, Sister O’Neill opened El Centro Arte Para la Paz, an educational and cultural center that promotes peace through dance, art and theological reflection, in Suchitoto, El Salvador, on the grounds of the historic Santa Imelda School and Convent. The Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation worked there from 1917 until 1980 when they were forced to abandon the school due to the country’s violent civil war.

A long-time peace activist, Sister O’Neill has received numerous honors and awards, including the 2008 Peacemaker Award of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace for her many years of peace efforts in El Salvador, and the Ciudadana Ilustre Award for her work on behalf of social and cultural development in Suchitoto.

She received her master’s degree in theology from Marquette and an Ed.D. in religious education from New York University. A lifelong educator, Sister O’Neill has taught at Augsburg College, Santa Clara University’s Casa de Solidaridad in El Salvador and Iona College.