Tuesday, March 15, 2016

'I Was in Prison and You Came to Visit Me'

by Sister Ellen McRedmond, D.C.

Sister Ellen looks at a depiction of Jesus Washing the Feet of Peter by Gabriel,
whom Sister Ellen served at the detention center.
Persons who are incarcerated hunger to be seen and heard. They long to be respected, listened to and encouraged, just like we do. Jesus' invitation to visit Him in prison is urgent. And what a privilege! 

Being in prison ministry is a ministry of presence, of listening, of love. How amazing to see the grace of God at work in their lives. Many feel abandoned by God. A person’s listening ear and caring heart can be the affirmation they need to hang on to hope.

At Mass one day, several women were crying, one sobbing. I asked her afterward if she wanted to talk. She turned her head away abruptly and said, “No one helps me. I’m lost.” I responded, “Then Jesus came for you.” She began that afternoon to open up to God’s love for her, though it took time. Like Peter we were moved to respond, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.” This message was reconfirmed as we sang Bernadette Farrell’s song, "Christ Be Our Light": “Your word alone has power to save us.”

A young man came to the retreat that began on Thursday night. On his nametag he put in large print: "Rascal." At the end of the retreat Saturday, he told us when he came to the retreat, he knew his name was Rascal. “Now I know my name is Robert!”

As I entered lockdown to begin our weekly chapel service, one of the women said, “Wake up, Mandy! Here comes hope!”

A young man who blamed himself for his mother’s death and his friend’s suicide learned to pray: Breathe in Jesus and breathe out mercy. While praying it, tears spilled from his eyes. Afterward he said, “I heard clearly within me: ‘You are forgiven.’ Then I realized this came not only from God but also from my mom and my friend and everyone else I had hurt.”

We cannot change the circumstances of our incarcerated brothers and sisters. However, we can be an instrument of the truth of God’s love for them. 

“My plans for you are full of hope, says the Lord, not disaster.” Jeremiah 29:11

1 comment:

  1. This is great, Sister Ellen!! A beautiful tribute to beautiful people in a beautiful ministry!