“Here I am with Dr. de la Torre (President of Caritas Christi, left) and Jared Fogel whom many of you will recognize from the Subway sandwich shops ads. Subway is one of the sponsors of the Heart Association program.” Photo courtesy/Caritas Christi
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On Thursday, Sept. 11, we were at MCI in Norfolk for a visit with the prison ministries there. We celebrated Mass with them and anointed some of their sick inmates in the hospital facilities. Every year, the Mass is a great occasion. A large contingent of inmates filled the auditorium and there were three wonderful choirs; one English, one Spanish and one Vietnamese.
The sisters have done a tremendous job for many years working with Deacon Bill Kane, our director of Prison Ministry. I understand there is also there a very active chapter of the Third Order of the Dominicans.
After the Mass, there was a dramatic production with impressive choreography that depicted the descent into a criminal lifestyle -- how a prisoner is led into the use of drugs -- and then his conversion. It was very, very well done and directed by one of the sisters.
Following the production, we were given a presentation on the various ministries and activities that have been organized at the facility. It really is encouraging to see how much has been accomplished there and the very positive effect it has had on the lives of the prisoners.
The Bay State Correction Center, also in Norfolk, is a much smaller prison, where Father Tom Stanton has been doing a wonderful job in his prison ministry. We had Mass there just this Wednesday, which was the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis. Father Tom Stanton arranged for us to pass out prayer cards with the prayer of St. Francis on the back.
After the Mass, Robert Soares, the deputy superintendent, gave us a tour of the prison and talked to us about the different programs there. A few years ago, Robert gave me a tour of MCI Cedar Junction and I was so pleased to see him again.
We also met with an instructor from Boston University, Paule Verdet, who for 18 years has been working in the prisons; in fact I often see Paule at other prisons I have visited. There are many educational options available to the inmates. BU has a program, started by Dr. John Silber almost 20 years ago, that allows a prisoner to continue with their studies at the school if they began to matriculate while incarcerated. That program, in addition to the GED and other programs are so important as inmates prepare for their lives outside of prison.
Saturday morning, we went to the Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade to cheer on members of the Caritas Christi team, who were taking part in the Boston Heart Association’s “Boston Start! Health Walk.”
There were so many people from Caritas there, including Caritas CEO Dr. Ralph de la Torre. They all had their lime green shirts on and Caritas had a large tent there for the walkers. I was told there were more than 15,000 walkers in total.
Also in this week’s blog:
- Communion and Liberation document on voting.
- Centennial Mass at St. Michael Parish in Avon.
- 50th anniversary of St. Bridget School in Framingham.
- Reception at the Cathedral to welcome members of the recently closed Holy Trinity Church Parish.
- North Region Bicentennial Picnic.
- Visit by Guatemalan Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini.
- Opening Mass of the Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy.
- Annual Lawn Party fundraiser for Blessed John XXIII National Seminary.