SVdP’s Restorative Justice Ministry (RJM) Head Chaplain shared the story of “Paul,” a man he ministered to during his detention and after his release. After leaving detention, Paul had nowhere to go and no job. He lived outdoors, sleeping in a cemetery. He endured countless hardships such as having his possessions stolen and struggling to stay dry in all sorts of weather. Staff and volunteers at SVdP’s Homeless Help Center gave him food, clothing, a sleeping bag and a tent. SVdP was also able to offer him employment at a SVdP Store. Paul rode the bus to work every day and at the end of the day he returned to his camp at the cemetery, feeling tired and discouraged.
But every night he would look at a statue of the Blessed Mother with her arms outstretched and he would pray. After praying he felt loved and protected. (Paul prays the rosary daily still.) The Chaplain told us that he frequently met with Paul during this time and saw first-hand what he had to endure. Amazingly, Paul never gave up or even complained. Eventually he got off parole and returned to his family who welcomed him home. It had been 19 years. It was a long road but Paul succeeded where so many fail.
When the Chaplain shared this story, he said that he had never been more proud and grateful for the compassionate ministry of SVdP than after walking this journey with Paul. Paul was filled with gratitude too – for the job SVdP gave him, for the support he found at SVdP’s Homeless Help Center, and especially for the love and prayers that the Jail Volunteers brought weekly when he was in jail.
“Thank you, Paul,” the Chaplain said, “for showing me what true courage and dedication look like, for showing me what true faith looks like and for teaching me about humility. I will never forget you. I send you much love and miss our weekly talks.”
Every day SVdP’s Head RJM Chaplain and SVdP volunteers visit people in detention and work with victims and their families, bringing Christ’s healing love and reconciliation to those most in need of His peace. As Psalm 85 sings, “Kindness and truth shall meet, justice and peace shall kiss.”
Photo credit: miqul / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND