Road to Mercy | Catholic Extension

By | September 13, 2019

(gentle music) – The story for me, the one that as a mom, it was the mother who had not
seen her child in 10 years. On arriving here at Angola, the mom was brought
into the visitor’s room and she kept waiting for her child and after a period of time someone went to investigate
what was happening, why wasn’t she connected to
her child, only to find out that her child was in
the room at the same time and the two of them did
not recognize each other. I cannot imagine that. The bus ride to Angola is
an expression of our mercy. Because for me, just being
on the bus with the people, it puts a face on the situation. – Angola is a very old prison. There are more than 6,000
men incarcerated here. It is surrounded on three
sides by the Mississippi River. It is a maximum security prison. Many of the men that are
here will never leave. Fewer than 20% receive visitors. So many have been almost
abandoned by family and friends and have no connection
with the outside world, which is very, very sad. – Our God is merciful, and we are called to be
merciful like the Father. And just listening to
the stories of the people who are on the bus, it’s real. (bell tolling) – My name is Agnes Charles, and we are standing in front
of Saint Paul Catholic Church, located on St. John Street. And we are here waiting on the bus to visit with our
brother that’s in Angola. And with me is my husband Rudolph Charles, my sister right here, Camelia Madison, my brother, Joseph Glover, and this is my oldest
brother, Paul Glover. This year makes 39 years that my brother have been an inmate at Angola. – It’s important to visit my
brother ’cause I love him. I was once in that type of predicament and I know visitors are important. – This is my first time here at Angola. To visit Jarvis. He’s been there for about
maybe two years now and… he’s there for life. – I feel, long as God
gives breath in my body, I brought this child into this world, so I have to be there for him. I have to show my love and that I care. – If you see someone from your
family you still have hope. My nephew has a lot of hope
that he’s gonna get out. He has a lot of hope. He
has a lot of trust in God. ‘Cause every time I visit
him, he’s talking about his father’s house.
He’s gonna fix the house when he gets back so he can live in it. He’s not giving up hope. – My brother Vincent has been incarcerated for over 26 years. Some of us don’t have a
ride to go to and from, and I know that’s through God’s mercy and grace that this is all in the working. – Without that bus I don’t
know what we’re gonna do. I thought I’d miss going to see my son. I love him so much. – [All] Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who
trespass against us. – I appreciate the idea that
the diocese funded the bus to make it possible for a
lot of families to go there. Probably everybody should
try to help everybody to know Christ, it’s our Christ. If you don’t have Christ in your life, you don’t have anything. – [Agnes] I thank you
for the Catholic diocese, Father God, that open
their hearts, Father, to help these young men, Father God, and so many others like them, Father. In the mighty name of Jesus, God. – When we think about the
call of Pope Francis for us to be merciful, Pope Francis
himself is a living witness. When he came to the United States, he went and he visited with the prisoners. Just as he stands for, in persona, of Christ and our shepherd. That he reminds us that
there’s a father there always calling his children home. And that we too are to be merciful. – I always use the image of that there two arms on the cross. And that the call to mercy is
to those who are imprisoned, but also to those who
have experienced violence, to the victims. We’re called to both sides. – [Stephanie] We have a
victims of violence program where we provide counseling
for victims as well as a mass and just kind of link the
people who have suffered some type of trauma to different
services in the community. A lot of our people are losing jobs. In the state of Louisiana, in our area, the Diocese of Lafayette
has been really hit. If we did not have the funding
from Catholic Extension, we would probably have to
cut some of our services. The bus ride to Angola
helps the prisoners. I think it gives them hope. Hope that they’re not forgotten. The hope that they’re forgiven. And even for the parent as
they meet their children here, that they are still connected. – It’s so amazing that the
Lafayette Diocese allows us to make this trip to
come see our loved ones. – What you are doing and
enabling is for families to go visit, and the family
connections are so important. It separates family, it’s a
family shatterer of lives. And when you lose that
connection with family, there’s just a whole part of you that is lost and you’re much more prone, you’re just going to be a number. You’re an object of scorn. When the guards are trained at Angola, it’s not to trust somebody like
you, so you just hemorrhage. Your dignity just hemorrhages
away, and to maintain dignity and selfhood and a sense
that “I’m a son of God,” or “I’m a daughter of God,
and I’m worth something.” Without that family
connection, it’s just so hard. So to arrange that is, I
think, one of the best things. – It was really a great visit. Really did, and he was excited to see us. (gentle music) (laughs) – I was really nervous to go there, and my heart was racing,
but once I saw him, and he was in good spirits,
and he looked fine, I know his heart was heavy
’cause mine was heavy. And when he hugged me he held me so tight. I knew that he was happy to see me. – It gives inmates hope, families. There’s so many inmates
that are forgotten, and some of them their
family dead and gone, and so, I mean, it’s important. I mean, if the church
doesn’t reach out, who will? If Jesus forgives, then
why can’t man forgive? Lord, have mercy. – I pray that God will
put in everybody to have some voice that will make a difference, that he will change their heart. – [Stephanie] I believe in people. We are all God’s children, and we make up this one human family. So when we think about,
where I go or where you go is where I will meet you, no
matter what your life is like. When I come into relationship with you, I will meet you where you are. – [Dianne Voiceover] This is
beautiful and I thank you all. I will never forget this. (gentle music) – There was one lady this morning who said that she was looking forward
to hugging her child. And when I thought about
that I was thinking about the fact that for us,
that’s an everyday thing. But here, for two days out of a year, she’s able to hug her child. Just bringing them together for a couple of hours is awesome. – Hi! Made a safe trip home
from Angola, alright. – Thank you so very much from everybody. – Thank you very much, we
really enjoyed the trip. And thank the Diocese of Lafayette. – Bye, thank you all for
everything, everything, everything. (gentle music) – [Stephanie] For those
who are incarcerated, that the Lord provide
some strength and comfort, Lord have mercy. – And for those of us who are privileged and have been given
resources, and educated, and given all that we need
to have a fully vibrant life, Lord have mercy.

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