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Catholics Across California Remember Prisoners

December 24, 2016

When Mass held last Christmas for ICE detainees at Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in Elk Grove, the Diocese of Sacramento was just beginning a renewed effort to support and strengthen its prison ministry. Only five men chose to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation so they could receive Communion.

One year of consistent attention under the leadership of Bishops Soto and Cotta has made quite a difference. On Thursday, December 22, 2017, more than 50 men came to worship. The line for Reconciliation before Mass was long. "I was so touched by the confessions I heard,” reflected one of the local priests who came to assist with the Mass.

As part of a commitment to restorative justice, California bishops, chaplains and volunteers are actively attending to the spiritual needs of women and men incarcerated across the state.

At the RJ Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, Bishop Brom celebrated Mass with Chaplain Enriguez and a team of ministry volunteers held a Christmas dinner for the men incarcerated there. The event impacted both the prisoners and the volunteers from local parishes who helped with the dinner. 

“It was really special,” said one inmate afterwards. “I know God controls all things, and He is good. I am grateful,” he continued. 

“Thank you very much for even providing such an opportunity for the inmates,” said Anna Gabriele, a volunteer. “They are in my prayers, and I hope they feel the love and peace of God this holiday season.”

Some of the other visits that are part of this statewide effort include:

  • Masses at New Folsom State Prison on Christmas morning celebrated by Bishop Soto and on January 7 celebrated by Bishop Cotta
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Masses celebrated at California Rehabilitation Center in Norco and Ironwood State Prison 
  • Bishop Garcia in the Diocese of Monterey celebrated Mass at Salinas Valley and Soledad State Prisons
  • Bishop Barron from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles celebrated Mass at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility and Chaplain Conneally-Salazar coordinated an Our Lady of Guadalupe Prayer Service
  • Chaplain Welsbacher at Sierra Conservation Center in Jamestown offered the Sacrament of Reconciliation to inmates and Mass on Christmas morning with help from local priests.