The Lay Dominican Prison Ministry Initiative had a holy day today. We gathered at the Connors Family Retreat Center (formerly St. Stephen's Priory) to have a day of retreat, sponsored by the Bethany House Ministries. Members of three chapters of Lay Dominicans attended: Our Lady of Mercy Chapter, MCI Norfolk, Hope of Bethany Pro-Chapter, Norfok, MA, and the Community of the Resurrection Chapter from Casco, Maine, attended along with others who follow the spirituality of Father Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P.
The theme was advertised as "Holding Up the Mirror God's Grace in Action." What this meant was to really look at our perceptions in looking at people.
We began with Professor John McDargh, PHD talking about his father telling him to watch out for the men in prison because they were bad men. John's dad perceived prisoners as bad men. But when John went to the prison, he found out that they were just people. In fact, they were good people who chose to do bad things.
The second speaker was Father Wayne Cavalier, O.P., who talked about Father Jean-Joseph Lastaste's perceptions, and how they were changed, when he met the women in Cadillac prison.
The final speaker was Kathleen Dennehy, the former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. She gave interesting insight on the "inside" perception of inmates. We also brainstormed some ideas on how to support prisoners and their families.
The location was spectacular. I know this property very well, as it once was a Dominican priory--the place where I entered the Order. Most of my spiritual formation was held here. So you better believe what celebrating the closing Mass meant to me. At this time of the year, around 5 PM the setting sun is in the perfect position to shine its rays upon the raised consecrated Host. Father Wayne raised the Host in the sunbeams, twice. Once to show up the Body of Christ, and again to show us His Broken Body.