Tuesday, January 10, 2006

behind bars

I finally went to jail.

It must have been back in June when I was approached by a very distraught women after Saturday vigil Mass. Her son had been arrested for reasons beyond her comprehension and was incarcerated at the state correctional institute here in the city. She wanted me to see him, speak to him, help him.

Shortly after that, a lady appears one weekday, very stressed out, and says she needs me to perform her matrimony. Immediately. Her fiance, Nicaraguan by birth, is currently doing time at Northern CI, level 5, maximum security. The wedding must be now, but they're willing to postpone the honeymoon a bit until they can be somewhere together other than the inmate visiting room.

Later, Raul asks me if I can go over to Osborn CI and see his father... and his uncle... and his brother-in-law. The family that steals together, appeals together.

The list continued to grow and it dawned on me that the relationship between many of the undocumented, unemployed members of the parish and the state correctional system is far from casual.

I also discovered that getting approved for prison ministry is no easy task. Ministry from prison to prison in this land of laws is processed separately. It's not like you're approved for one and, therefore, you're approved for all.

Anyway, after a drawn out process, Osborn CI today finally told me I can go to jail.