People are always surprised when we say “Light Row” and not “Death Row”. Maybe you will understand by the end of this reflection.
Two years ago, Deacon Ronnie knocked at the door of our convent in Waco, Texas. He boldly asked us if we might come visit the women on death row at the Mountain View Unit. The Holy Spirit pushed us to make an exception to our typical contemplative rule and accept this request. The charism of our “non-cloistered” contemplative life allows us sometimes to “go out” of our convents to meet the world. How could we visit women in prison, muchless death row? Our community life is primarily a life of prayer and silence to receive the Word of God and to live by it, following the example of The Blessed Virgin Mary. Our Rule allows us to offer an evangelical welcoming in our own convent, offering to others a time for prayer through Lectio Divina. The women on death row are unable to visit us, so we go to be with them. There is no doubt God inspired our mutual encounter. It became evident from day one that these women are our Sisters in Christ.
The women on Light Row each have had a deep encounter with Jesus, our Savior. It is beautiful to witness their love for Jesus, for the Virgin Mary, and for the Church. They are praying for the world, just as we do in our convent. When we meet with them each month, we are just sisters praying, singing, and reading the Word of God, for which they have a deep love. They are an example for each one of us. They live by Theological Hope in an amazing manner. The truth is, they teach us that love can be shared by anyone. How is that? They are beloved children of our Father in Heaven with dignity that cannot be denied because each one of us is more than our actions. Because of this, these women can teach us how to love and to go further in truth.
Jesus is present in all, especially those who are marginalized or forgotten, and He extends His love through those we accompany.
Join CPMC on December 1st for Restored by Compassion: Given & Received, a virtual conference to gather ministers, volunteers, and supporters of prison, jail, reentry, and detention ministries. Come listen to others’ stories of transformational ministry, rooted in compassion and the Gosepl call to accompany others. Featuring Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ, Bp. Bill Wack, CSC, and other leaders, participants will find inspiration and meaningful opportunities to grow in their ministry and support others doing this important work.