Concerning your article (“Power of Prayer Helps Irish Nun Rescue Addicts,” Dec. 27-Jan. 2 issue): Having completed 13 years in prison ministry (the last seven in alcohol-and-drug rehabilitation treatment), I can relate to Sister Consillio when she states that “young people have no faith, and the faith is not being passed on.”
I can also give testimony to the power of prayer, not only in recovery but also for those affected by AIDS. Because of the healing needed in addiction, AIDS, and other inmate-related psychological and physical problems, I celebrate the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick every month, [here] at Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility. It is a powerful sacrament that cannot only bring physical [healing], but spiritual healing as well.
My experience also tells me that Sister Consillio is so correct in that, if our prison inmates of today had parents that helped them talk the talk with God at an early age, walked them to Church, and set the example for them to follow, so that they one day could walk their own walk with God, then I believe our prisons would not be so bulging, especially with Catholic inmates. I firmly believe that if I had some of these young men in the confessional at an early age, they might never have seen the inside of prison walls. We not only need parents who will take the time to show their children the power of prayer, but we need priests who will take the time in the confessional to listen to the pain of young people and recognize the red flags that signal the causes of incarceration. These include mental, physical, or sexual abuse, as well as drinking or drug [experimentation] at an early age. The center of the power of prayer needs to be the Eucharist, where we can open our heart to the heart of Christ and share with him any joy or happiness, as well as fear, anxiety, frustration or even anger. There is where the Peace of Christ really is, and once an addict can find this peace, no matter how many times one might trip or fall, anyone can pick oneself up again and move on. We need to help more of our young people, through the Rosary, shared prayer or healing services, and, most especially, the Mass, to be able to find this peace.
Father Richard Severson
Catholic Chaplain Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility Wilton, New York