Notre Dame to present Laetare Medal to eco-justice activist in ‘Cancer Alley’

By Brian Roewe
March 30, 2022

Sharon Lavigne, a Catholic crusader of environmental justice for her St. James community in Louisiana's notorious “Cancer Alley,” will receive this year's prestigious Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame.

Notre Dame announced the selection of Lavigne — a 70-year-old grandmother who has led campaigns against petrochemical plants in her community of St. James Parish, Louisiana — on March 27. Considered one of the highest honors within the U.S. Catholic Church, the Laetare Medal has been awarded annually since 1883. According to the school, it is presented to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”

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