Kerry is afforded the unique opportunity to visit with the prison chaplain for death row inmates at San Quentin State Prison. Father Williams shares about the religion classes he teaches to interested inmates. There are iron bars in the chapel where he says Mass; he stands on one side of the bars while they stand on the other. Father tells her about how most of the men in prison are seeking forgiveness both for their crimes and for themselves. He stresses that the men are not defined only by their crimes but are still human beings who have just made poor choices. He chooses to focus on their humanity rather than their brokenness.
Once again I find myself admiring Kerry for going outside of herself to the extent of visiting prisoners who live across the country. She is taking her goal of performing the Corporal Works of Mercy very seriously and it makes me wonder if I could ever do that. A few years ago, I spent one year as a volunteer in St Louis through the Vincentian Service Corps. I had the opportunity to be a prisoner’s pen pal that year and took advantage of it. It was eye-opening and humbling. One of my housemates took her role a step further and decided to visit the man she wrote to. I’m still not sure if I could do that.
For your reflection:
What challenges you about the idea of visiting someone in prison?
Why do you think more people don’t minister to the imprisoned?