This Week’s Message: Lessons from Prison
By Deacon William Kane
On a cold day in January years ago, I left home early to travel to Walpole Prison for a pastoral visit with the inmates and chaplain. I was nursing a head cold, so I took two Tylenol tablets and put two others in my suit coat pocket. I quickly forgot about them. Walpole Prison is an intimidating place. It is surrounded by a thirty foot high concrete wall that makes the old interior buildings impossible to see from the outside. When you walk inside those walls, you pass into a place with a culture that is often violent, hostile, and dangerous. It is a “lockdown” prison. Inmates live alone, in six-foot by twelve-foot cells. They are locked down for twenty-three hours a day, seven days a week. Each inmate is allowed out of his cell for one hour each day, to exercise in a small outdoor enclosure. There is virtually no contact with other inmates.
I entered the security area as usual. It is at the entrance to a room called the “trap” which is the last room before entry into the prison area. A heavy metal door slams behind you when you walk in. The security procedures were familiar to me. I took off my shoes and my belt and passed my suit coat to the officer at the desk, and walked through the metal detector. I was putting on my shoes when suddenly I heard the officer shout: “Drugs! Drugs!” I turned, and he was holding to white Tylenol tablets in his hand. No explanation or pleading could stop what followed. The tablets are officially defined as contraband and my forgetfulness warranted suspicion and treatment as a criminal.
I was taken by the arms to a small room and strip searched. With my clothes disheveled, I was left alone on a bench, humiliated and frightened. It didn’t matter at all to them who I was or why I was there. I was now their prisoner. An eternity seemed to pass before an officer returned my shoes, belt, and coat. He said nothing but motioned for me to enter the trap, so I could enter the prison area. As I entered the inside, I felt foolish and diminished. I felt like an inmate. For years, I have looked back on that experience and embraced it for what it was: an encounter with the suffering Christ. After all, in the Gospel of Matthew 25:36, Jesus says: “I was in prison and you visited me.” He tells us that He is the one who is in prison.
On that January morning, I experienced what it is like for every inmate who enters Walpole Prison: the isolation, loneliness, humiliation, and intimidation they all feel as they suffer many of the same indignities Jesus did during His Passion. On that morning, as I walked along the tiers of cells, I struggled a lot less to see the suffering Christ on the face of the inmates. He is in every one of those cells, because He said he would be.
Seven years ago, I retired from my work in prison ministry. For eleven years, I had been going in and out of the youth detention center and twenty-seven prisons and jails located in the Archdiocese of Boston. It was time for someone else to serve the Church behind all those walls and razor wire. It was time for someone else to minister and learn from the fragile and vulnerable in prison. And it was time for me to spend more of my time in parish ministry, looking for where Jesus was waiting for me in our parish community.
When I was studying in seminary in the 1980s, a professor said to me: “Remember that this seminary will not make you a good deacon — people will make you a good deacon.” I believe that people make us who we are. People make us better and more compassionate. That is God’s way. He is waiting for us in everyone who suffers, no matter where they are. It is people who inspire us to continue Jesus’s ministry, especially when that ministry takes us to hostile places, or when it takes us to broken places in a person’s life. And it is people who inspire us to continue Jesus’s ministry when that ministry takes us to broken places in the life of a parish community.
During my eleven years working in prison ministry, I was inspired by many prison chaplains, whose own faith in God’s love and mercy changed people who have what the Bible would call “hearts of stone.” Perhaps the poet Maya Angelou said it best when she said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I am grateful to the people of this parish community. I believe that we all live in some kind of prison. But we all have wonderful opportunities to break down the bars or climb the walls in each other’s lives. Opportunities to find where Jesus waits for you and me. Opportunities for individual faith and community faith. What does hope look like? It looks like you and it looks like me. What does compassion and forgiveness look like? It looks like you and it looks like me. People make us who we are. People make us better people. That is God’s way.
May the peace of Christ disturb you and me always!
Deacon Bill Kane
Reverend Mr. William F.X. Kane, Deacon
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Deacon Kane’s Silver Anniversary
On Tuesday, September 15th, Deacon William Kane will celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of his ordination to the diaconate. Deacon Kane was ordained by Cardinal Bernard Law at Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston in 1990. Since then, Deacon Kane has served in parish ministry and as Director of Prison Ministry for the Archdiocese of Boston. In that capacity, he supervised the Catholic chaplains in the twenty-seven prisons and jails that are located throughout the Archdiocese. In addition, Deacon Kane founded the Holy Family Parish (Cevicos) Mission which has brought more than 1,000 fellow parishioners and friends to the Dominican Republic to love and serve God’s poor at our sister parish in Cevicos.
During the past year, I have come to appreciate Deacon Kane’s deep and prayerful faith, his compassion and patience, and his abiding love for God’s people here in Gloucester and Rockport, in the Dominican Republic, and the dark shadows of our jails and prisons. I also know that Deacon Kane has a sincere devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows who has offered him comfort and joy in the midst of life’s most unbearable moments of an- guish and grief. By God’s amazing grace, Deacon Kane’s ordination was celebrated on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. And so, let us give God great thanks and praise for the gift of Deacon Kane’s vocation and his many years of service to God’s Church; and let us raise our hearts and voices in prayer:
Almighty God and Father,
when Jesus, your Son, was raised up on the Cross,
it was your will that Mary, his mother,
should stand and suffer with him in her heart.
In union with Our Lady of Sorrows,
grant that the Church may share in the passion of Christ,
and so be brought to the glory of his resurrection.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!
This week, please join me in praying for Deacon Bill Kane on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his ordination. Please pray for his family and for all who have been touched by his good work and kindness over the years. Please also join me in praying for Deacon Dan Dunn and Deacon Raymond Wellbank (about whom you will be learning more in the coming weeks). May God forever bless our good and holy deacons!
Peace and blessings to all,
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Summer Carillon Concerts
An Our Lady of Good Voyage Tradition
Saturday, September 12th
A summer tradition continues at Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish! The last in our annual series of Summer Carillon Concerts is scheduled for Saturday, September 12th at 5:00pm (rain or shine). This summer, Luann Pallazola, our own very talented organist-keyboardist, has prepared programs that include familiar classical and international pieces, popular hymns, patriotic melodies, and even some children’s tunes.
Installed in 1922, the carillon bells in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church were the first toned set of carillon bells in the United States. Although our bells can be heard from several blocks away, the sound is best close to the church. So bring a coffee, cold drink, or snack and enjoy this wonderful Gloucester tradition! The Summer Carillon Concerts are free and open to the public! For more information, please contact LuAnn Pallazola at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are welcome!
Assisi Project Online
Remembering Victim 001
As we pray for all victims of the terrorists attacks on September 11, 2001, please join us at assisiproject.com for “Remembering Victim 001: A Reflection on the Life & Ministry of Father Mychal Judge.” Father Mychal was recorded as the first official casualty at the World Trade Center. He was a Franciscan priest with a deep commitment to serving God’s poor, especially those who live with addictions. Come & pray with us online!
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is an international fellowship of ‘Franciscans in Spirit’ with friends and followers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages to more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. For more information about the Assisi Project and upcoming opportunities for faith formation, prayer, and pilgrimage in the Franciscan spiritual tradition, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. May the Lord give you peace!
Learning the Liturgy of the Hours
September 15th through September 17th
In his First Letter to the Thessalonians, Saint Paul writes: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thess 5:16).” For centuries, Christians have puzzled over what it means to pray without ceasing. But one ancient practice provides an answer: the Liturgy of the Hours. Since the middle ages, the Church has used a daily practice of prayer called the “Divine Office” or “Liturgy of the Hours” to mark and sanctify the various hours or times of the day: morning, afternoon, evening, and night. It uses a four-week cycle of psalms, canticles, and scripture readings to draw us into deeper relationship with Christ and the Church by uniting us with the Lord and each other through prayers or petition, praise, and thanksgiving.
At ordination, our deacons and priest make solemn promises to pray with the Divine Office each and every day. However, the Liturgy of the Hours is not just for deacons, priests, and those consecrated to religious life. Countless lay men and women around the world make the Liturgy of the Hours the foundation of their daily prayer and worship. Indeed, in Canticum Laudis, the Apostolic Constitution of the Church, we read: “The purpose of the Divine Office is to sanctify the day and all human activity. The Divine Office is the prayer not only of the clergy but of the whole People of God.”
During our recent summer retreat, which was based on the prayer and spirituality of Saint Benedict (the founder of western monasticism), many parishioners asked about the Liturgy of the Hours. What is it? Can I pray it, too? How does it work? In response to that spiritual hunger for more information and instruction, Father Jim and Cliff Garvey will host a special three night mini-course entitled “Learning the Liturgy of the Hours” from Tuesday, September 15th through Thursday, September 17th from 6:30pm until 8:00pm at Saint Anthony Chapel.
Each evening of the mini-course will begin with Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. After praying together, Father Jim and Cliff will offer a reflection on some aspect of the Divine Office and advice on how to pray it alone or in small groups. Each evening will include time for discussion and questions. And finally, we will conclude with Night Prayer. This mini-course is free but one volume editions of the Liturgy of the Hours will be available for purchase. If you would like to enroll in this special program, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are welcome!
Established in 2014, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Our worship sites include Saint Ann Church in Gloucester, Saint Anthony Chapel in Gloucester, Saint Joachim Church in Rockport, and Our Lady of Good Voyage Church in Gloucester. We are a Roman Catholic faith community united in prayer, fellowship, and service. For more information about becoming a member of one of our parishes, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please join us! All are welcome!
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