We sisters meet at the county jail with the women who choose to come. For an hour, we pray together, have sharing and scripture reading about God and His powerful, healing living presence among us.
This article courtesy of Steve Kellmeyer, whose Calendar of Indulgences, Neophyte Calendar and other teaching tools are available through Bridegroom Press.
Most of the women in the jail are prostitutes and/or “crack” addicts or alcoholics. It is an amazing thing to see these women gradually open their hearts and lives to God’s healing presence. Sure, many of the women will just end up back on the street once they get out, because they are in great bondage to drugs and prostitution; and I don’t think there are enough, if any, middle men to sponsor them and take them under their wing when they leave the jail, to help them to get established in a good, healthy, rehabilitating environment.
It’s inevitable that when the women leave and return to the same environment and friends, they’ll not have the strength to restrain from their old lifestyle for very long.
Anna is someone I met during one of my Sunday jail ministry services.
Anna is a 25-yer-old beautiful young woman who had a very treacherous past. Her mother was a prostitute, her father a drug addict. At the age of 3, her mother was found murdered near a building, shot up with heroine and frozen to death. By the age of 12, Anna’s father had started her on crack cocaine. No telling how early on Anna began being sexually molested by her father; somewhere in the initial years of her life. By her early teens, she had a child by her father.
Her whole formation in life revolved around sex, drugs and living in illusions and unrealities of life. She was taken in and out of her father’s care, being moved to different orphanage and foster care situations. Her aunt has since told me that, “Anna had more potential… (beautiful, smart, a very warm and loving personality) but she just didn’t have a chance,” referring to her very dysfunctional and abusive living situation while growing up.
When I first met Anna at the Sunday jail service, one of the things she shared was that she felt “freer in here than ever.” She said she was happy to be caught because she hated being on crack and in the lifestyle of prostitution. She just knew nothing other. Other women present chimed in as though feeling similar.
Anna said she felt that it was God’s mercy that she was caught. It happened to be on Christmas Eve. I agreed that it was no doubt that it was a present from Jesus on His birthday, out of His great love for her, and desire for her to know a bettera much betterlife. (Maybe the fact that I have become involved in Anna’s life is a part of bringing about that great plan as well).
My heart aches so deeply for Anna and other precious souls like her. Though the love and pain I experience in my heart can seem so deep, great and intense, I know it is but a small taste of the infinite, burning love and pain that the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary experience for this very precious child of Theirs. I have no doubt that they want me to be Their hands and feet and heart in this situation and in this very broken and hurting world in generaleven if in my own broken and limited way.
And I know this is a call not just for me, but for any who “have ears to hear.”
I am sharing this in hopes that it will inspire others to reach outespecially to those in the most vulnerable and seemingly helpless situations, such as those in jail or prison. For these are our bothers and sisters who we are to help usher into the Kingdom of Heaven by bringing Christ’s personal love and care to them. So few of them have ever really experienced genuine love and care in their lives.
It is especially here, in the jails and prisons, that I find the “harvest is ripe” and “the soil fertile.” It is in the “poorest of the poor” (not only materially, but spiritually and psychologically as well), especially in places such as these, where we are able to see the face of Christ. And I know Mother Teresa would agree, for Christ tells us, “When I was in prison, you visited Me.”
I’m not saying their lives will change overnight. A small percentage do have dramatic conversions; but, for the most part, there is much complexity and woundedness involved. But, little by little, love can heal anything; love can “move mountains.”
I leave you with a few words from a very beautiful and touching letter Anna wrote to me:
“I trust you…I know with all my heart you would never do anything to harm me. I’ve never in my life had someone that has wanted to only bring me good, motive free…For so long I’ve lived in a world of illusion, filled with deceit and lies. Each tear cried, a drop of confusion. Broken to broken dreams, the sad reality. I don’t even remember the dreams. What was it that I wanted to be when I grew up? It is not this. It’s like a gunshot that stopped my heart from its greatest fulfillment. I was the carrier of a disease called struggle. Many people are where I am from.
“Today I am learning a tiny bit about surrender. Sometimes when I sit in my cell I fantasize about things like freedom, a family, happiness, just simple things. I do not expect nor desire the big house on the hill; that is not me. If I could just have something real, I’d settle for a box.
I realize today even behind these bars I feel alive again. For a long time I felt hopeless, lost and dead. I long ago had given up… There is a desire to hope again, to try. I am only at the beginning, and God knows there is one heck of a journey, but I have faith everything is gonna be alright.
“Pray for me, I think it’s working.
“I love you, Anna.”
If we don’t believe in them, who will?