Help share God's love in upcoming prison ministry retreat
SPRUCE PINE — "When did we ever see you ill or in prison, and visit you? And The King will say to them in reply, Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25: 39-40)
Ever wonder how you could live up to this particular Gospel call? It's not far out of reach, and a diocesan ministry specifically devoted to tending to prisoners welcomes your involvement.
Within the diocese, there are more than two dozen state prisons housing more than 38,000 men and women right now. Through the diocesan prison ministry, the faithful can visit prisoners in person, send them letters of encouragement, pray, donate supplies or fund gifts of religious items for them, and so much more.
An upcoming program for inmates, referred to as residents, of Avery-Mitchell Correctional Center in Spruce Pine may be the perfect opportunity for you to reach out in faith.
Residents Encounter Christ (REC) – an intensive retreat type of program inspired by the Cursillo movement that focuses spiritual discussion and growth over a two-day time frame – will be held Oct. 26-27 at the correctional facility. It features talks by clergy and laypeople, music, discussions and shared meals.
The first day of REC focuses on the Word of God, Christ's death and resurrection, and God's forgiveness and mercy. The sacrament of reconciliation is offered. At the end of the day, residents receive letters of support written by people from across the diocese. The second day focuses on the Risen Christ, improving oneself and developing healthy communal relationships within the prison environment. The outside community then joins the team and residents. Everyone shares a meal together, followed by a final presentation and the concluding Mass.
Your letters of support and prayer – called "palanca" in the Cursillo world – are especially requested for the residents who will be taking part in this retreat.
The letters are an outward expression of agape love through prayer. Through these first-name-only letters, written from the heart, the writer tells the prisoner that they are praying for their healing and for them to receive God's mercy.
Donations to provide Bibles, supplies and other items are also welcome to aid the Residents Encounter Christ program.
And finally, you are welcome to attend this REC retreat in Spruce Pine or others in the diocese in the future. About 12 to 15 people are needed to put on each retreat, including both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking laypeople.
— Mike Murray, correspondent
Learn more about the prison ministry: Contact Don Waugh from St. Bernadette Parish at 828-284-2471 or 828-766-2766, or Joe Noser from St. Lucien Parish at 828-766-7784 or 828-385-3663.
Send palanca or donations: St. Bernadette Church, 2085 Highway 105, Linville, N.C. 28646 828-898-6900. Note: Palanca should be addressed to "Dear Resident," written anonymously and include nothing other than the letter in an unsealed envelope. Donations should be noted for REC.
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy