This is a wonderful story from the Catholic News Agency of a visit Archbishop Nienstedt made to a local prison; and reminds us of the importance of the Church becoming much more deeply involved in the ministry to criminals—inside and outside of prison.
“St. Paul, Minn., Dec 20, 2009 / 02:29 pm (CNA).- Tim O’Meara, 50, heartily shook Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Most Rev. John Nienstedt’s hand and grinned broadly, his excitement transparent. He had been anticipating the archbishop’s visit for a while, he said. O’Meara is one of about 990 men who are currently in the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Rush City. Arch¬bishop Nienstedt celebrated Mass and visited with inmates Dec. 15. The visit coincided with Gaudete Sunday — the Sunday of Advent that calls people to rejoice in the Lord.
“In his homily, Archbishop Nienstedt spoke about God’s gift of joy and the faithful’s need to rejoice. He also spoke of conversion, which is at the heart of St. John the Baptist’s message in the Gospel.
“These Scriptures speak to everyone in the church, no matter what condition he or she finds themselves,” he said. “Even in this situation of being incarcerated, there can be real joy in the realization that God is here in your midst, calling you to a change of heart. . . .”
“The past is what it is,” he continued. “The future lies open to what you want to make of it.”
“Twenty-one men attended the Mass, a number that slightly disappointed inmate Eric Dahlin, 28. “There should be more people than this, but there’s not, and that’s OK,” he said.
“[The archbishop’s visit] means a lot to us,”added Dahlin. “It brings up our day — spiritually and mentally.”
“The visit was arranged by Deacon Michael Martin, a parishioner at St. Gregory in North Branch who has been assigned to minister to the offenders in Rush City since his September 2008 ordination.”