Mercy Mondays

Visit the Imprisoned

By Fr. Mark Bartosic | Monday, October 17, 2016

“... [D]uring the Christian journey, the journey the Lord has invited us to undertake, there is no saint without a past and no sinner without a future”.

Pope Francis spoke these words as part of a reflection about the life of King David that was given at the beginning of this Year of Mercy. His words resonate with me as I begin my fourth month at Kolbe House, the Archdiocesan agency providing a Catholic presence in the jails of Cook and Lake Counties.

Jail reminds me of the waters of chaos in Genesis 1. Out of that chaos, the Lord brought good things. While those of us at Kolbe House usually don’t know why our friends in jail are locked up, there’s no doubt that these are men, women, and children with a past full of chaos. Some deal with the chaos through indulging in still more noise and bedlam, interior and exterior. Others respond to invitation to listen to the Word in this way: after some hesitation, the head bows down low, the eyes close (a remarkable thing, in a place where everyone is perpetually looking over his/her shoulder) and hands creep across the table or through the window in the cell door, seeking a waiting hand. Ours.

“What do you want to pray for?” Kolbe House chaplains ask. And then the answers come. Some of them pack a punch in very few words: “Peace.” “My family.” “Better choices.” “My victim.”

On November 1st, the Church celebrates all the saints - especially the unknown ones, whose lives were (only) quietly holy. I have no doubt that there are people working in the jail, and people locked up in the jail, who are on their way to holiness. We will know all the stories of all the saints when Christ raises the dead. That will be wonderful.

Mercy Challenge

We are all sinners with a future. The Church is here to remind us of that. Kolbe House does it in the jails of Cook and Lake County. Who does it for you? And for whom do you do it?

Fr. Mark Bartosic is the Director of Kolbe House Jail Ministry and the pastor of Assumption B.V.M Parish in Chicago.