Written on: July 10, 2015
Walking with the incarcerated and their families over many years, one can not help but feel the pain, frustrations, sorrows and also the joys of the journey.
For many, the sense of separation began long before incarceration- often it is addiction that started the rift.
Substance abuse ravishes the body and robs the spirit. It is all-consuming leaving families sometimes grateful that their loved one is incarcerated–alive.The journey back can be painful as hopes are dashed by relapses.
For those accompanying the addicted or repeat offender, there is a spiritual strength needed to stand firm. For the addicted, spiritual strength is needed to recognize their own dignity-even in failure. The joy of embracing life with dignity is one that can be shared by all.
My personal journey continues now with hospice patients and their families-mining the spiritual strength to move beyond the pain to embrace a newness of life.
Truly, we are companions to families on the journey!
Sister Dolores Ann O’Dowd came to Albion, NY as a pastoral assistant to a parish and started volunteering at the nearby prison. In ’77 they first brought women. A few years later when the prison system expanded Sr. Dolores went to Albion Prison as a chaplain. After retiring, she volunteered in hospice until a position opened for a spiritual care coordinator. “I have always enjoyed working with people- seeing their growth and supporting them through difficult times. Both positions have provided ample opportunities for that.”