On my first day in federal prison, I was offered sex, drugs, alcohol and a cell phone, but it would be months before I had the opportunity to see a Catholic priest.
I had already spent nearly a year in a county jail, waiting to be sentenced and shipped to a federal prison, sharing a 15’x18’ concrete cell with 12 violent, career criminals, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. During that 11 months, I believe I saw a Catholic priest on three occasions. It might have been four, but it’s tough to remember those kinds of details when so much of that time was spent in adrenaline fueled survival mode, a bag of batteries in a sock in one hand for defense and a sharpened toothbrush in the other. The Priest, pastor of the local Catholic church, came after tiring of my mother’s calls begging for him to visit me. Or perhaps it was her prayers and not calls that were efficacious.
I was glad to see him. His liturgy was not exactly the Missa Cantata I had frequented with my family prior to my arrest, but he brought with him forgiveness and compassion-as rare in prison as in the world.
Over the course of my 40 months in federal custody, Catholic services were rare. In contrast, evangelical protestants had frequent-as often as daily-services. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Nation of Islam were also very active, both in their evangelization and their activities. It was not at all … Read the rest