The PATHWAYS of PAUL Pilgrimage, Sept. 18-28, 2019 -- Information

 
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Saint of the DayBook ReviewsGuest Columnist

 

Jan. 13, 2019

Dec. 23, 2018

   The Dead Sea Scrolls series

 

   St. Nicholas School, Kinsley, Advent Cantata, Dec. 7, 2008

 

   

 

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Scroll to bottom to navigate to different departments

Amid calls for reform, a look at stats –

and stories – from the US prison system

Washington D.C., Oct 25, 2015 / 04:12 pm (CNA/EWTN News) - Saul Green wanted to turn his life around.

Green was caught stealing out of a subway station vending machine and charged with larceny 24 years ago. After the judge tossed out the case, he was later sentenced to prison on a crack cocaine conviction.

Following his year in prison, he found employment as a concierge for three months in Washington, D.C. But when his employer wanted to move him to a security guard position, they found out about his prison term and then parted ways with him.

“Ever since that time, it’s been hard,” he told CNA in an interview. He lost his apartment and had to take everything he owned to the streets. Green currently lives in a men’s shelter in Washington, D.C. and is still waiting for calls back from employers after more than 125 interviews for potential jobs.

Green's story is one example of the struggles ex-prisoners face when they look for a job. For years, Catholic leaders have been calling for criminal justice reform to help avoid similar situations, which can result in homelessness, drug abuse, gang activity, or a return to crime.  

Now, the U.S. bishops believe that a new Senate bill is a good first step to achieving reform.

“Our Catholic tradition supports the community's right to establish and enforce laws that protect people and advance the common good,” stated a recent letter from Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami and Sister Donna Markham, OP.

“But our faith also teaches us that both victims and offenders have a God-given dignity that calls for justice and restoration, not vengeance,” they continued.

Archbishop Wenski chairs the U.S. bishops’ committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. Sister Donna Markham is the president and CEO of Catholic Charities, USA.

Their letter, sent to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member of the committee, applauds the Senate’s Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act.

It hails the bill as a “modest bipartisan first step” in criminal justice reform, praising it overall while finding the addition of some new mandatory minimum sentences “problematic.”

The bill is “comprehensive,” according to Anthony Granado, a policy advisor to the U.S. Bishops Conference on issues involving civil rights and the death penalty.

“We need to move away from this mentality of punishment for its own sake and look at smarter sentencing, smarter ways of doing incarceration that in the end, not only protect society, but also lift up human life and dignity,” he told CNA.

Reform of the criminal justice system has now become a thoroughly bipartisan initiative. Presidential candidates from both parties have talked about the issue. The new Senate bill enjoys three co-sponsors from each party.

Some reform advocates believe that a push for tougher stances on crime in the 1980s and ‘90s culminated with a legal system that houses too many prisoners for too long a time and at unnecessary expense to society.

The U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s overall population but 25 percent of the prison population. The federal prison population has seen a 790 percent increase since 1980, according to the Congressional Research Service.

And minorities are more likely to be behind bars, another reason why advocates insist upon reform of the justice system. One in nine black children has a father in prison, according to 2009 statistics from The Pew Charitable Trusts. Over a third of young black males without high school diplomas are in jail. One in three black males born now will at some point serve time in jail.

“Really, I think, what the bishops have been saying for quite a while now is it’s a long-overdue conversation in our country about how to fix our broken criminal justice system,” Granado said, “one that promotes mass incarceration, particularly for poor individuals, minorities.”

“This (bill) is a step in the right direction,” he added.

As a first step in a reform initiative, the Senate bill addresses sentencing reform but also anti-recidivism programs and solitary confinement reform.

The bill cuts some mandatory minimum sentences for many non-violent and low-level drug offenders, while at the same time adding other mandatory minimums. Some of the mandated sentences stretch to 15 or even 25 years.

Debi Campbell, a Virginia resident who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the bill on Monday, argued that she deserved jail time for using and selling methamphetamine with her husband in the 1990s – but not almost 20 years, which was her sentence.

One of her clients had gone to the police, and Campbell was charged with conspiracy to sell 10 kilos of meth. “I never even saw that much drugs, much less sold it,” she said in her written testimony, but she was being charged for both her own crimes and those of her clients, plus for their allegations made against her.

Campbell pled guilty in 1994 and received a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence, plus an extra sentence of almost 10 additional years. Her client received probation in return for being an informant.

“I needed to go to prison because I desperately needed a wake-up call,” she said in her testimony. “But I did not need nearly 20 years in prison to learn my lesson.”

“The worst part was not being able to be with my four daughters,” she said. “I had already failed them once, and now they were growing up in the foster care system.”

Mandatory minimums “don’t really take into account” the particular circumstances of a person’s case, Granado said. “They’ve been applied so disproportionately, particularly for non-violent offenses.”

The bishops oppose “one size fits all” laws like that because they don’t deal with the “subsidiarity” of taking each human case as it comes, he added.

The proposed bill also expands “safety valves” to give judges more flexibility in determining whether a defendant merits less than the mandatory minimum sentence. Those with a serious drug offense or a violent offense would not be eligible.

In addition, the bill reduces the penalty in the federal three-strike law from life imprisonment to 25 years for drug offenders. The three-strike law applies when a person is convicted of a “serious violent felony” and has been previously convicted twice in federal or state court of a “serious violent felony” and another offense, which can be a “serious drug offense.”

The legislation also encourages prisoners to participate in “anti-recidivism programs” which can reduce their sentences. These programs would include job-training, mental health counseling, and drug treatment, which Granado argues helps get to the root of the problem of why they’re in prison.

Preventing recidivism – a return to prison for someone who has been released – is critical, Granado insisted. However, it is “very difficult for these persons to find jobs,” he said.

Unemployment is the biggest cause of recidivism, maintains Judith Conti of the National Employment Law Project. She advocates for persons who cannot get a job because of their previous criminal record. The best-case scenario for a former inmate who is unemployed, she says, is that he receives public benefits.

The worst-case scenario – and all too common – is that he reverts back to crime.

“They’ve paid their debt to society,” Granado said. “It makes no sense to return a person to the community with no assistance, just so they can go back and commit crime.”

Yet despite support from churches, friends, and organizations, such assistance may not be enough for an ex-inmate to land a job, as exemplified by the story of Saul Green. Reform advocates say serious efforts are needed to turn things around.

On another note, the proposed Senate bill contains “strong regulations and restrictions” on solitary confinement for juveniles, Granado said.

Bernard Kerik, former police commissioner for New York City who pled guilty to tax evasion and fraudulent statements in 2009 and served three years in prison, spent 60 days in solitary confinement.

“That 60 days, to me, was like 10 years,” he described it in a speech at the Heritage Foundation in May. Kerik said that during his time in solitary, he started hallucinating and talking to himself. To pass the time he would count everything – “the number of bedsprings, steps, cracks in the walls, lines and mudsplats on the windows.”

He said that after spending time in solitary, someone will “admit to anything…to get out of that cell.”

The proposed Senate bill enacts “modest” reform, and Granado says that this should be rooted in the “Golden Rule” of the Gospel of St. Matthew, which Pope Francis referenced before Congress: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. (Mt. 7:12).”

When so many are tempted to say of prisoners “lock them up and throw away the key,” we must treat them as we would want to be treated, he insisted. The teaching “goes back to the classical Greek thought of Aristotle, it’s been a part of the Church’s social teaching going back to day one.”

Pope Francis “reminds us that we’re all capable of committing grave sin and evil, but at the end, we’re redeemed by Christ’s love,” Granado added, “through the Cross and the Resurrection.”

Past Issues

Dec. 9, 2018

Nov. 25, 2018

Nov. 11, 2018

Oct. 28, 2018

Oct. 14, 2018

Sept. 16, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: 2018 Golf Classic; student athletes; physically challenged; Leonard Stegman; Lesson in forgiveness; Sending us on a mission

Sept. 2, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Priest crisis; Scandal; Opioid addictions; Seeds of Suicide; Leightons; St. Anne; Vincke; seminarians; Dominican Sisters; Stewardship Conference; Dead Sea Scrolls; PSR programs; Roe V. Wade

 

August 12, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Prayer and Action; Totus Tuus; Janee Bernal; Diana Ramirez; Heidy Ramirez; Bishop Gilmore honored for 20 years ministry; suicide; contraception and abortion; Dead Sea Scrolls; Humanae Vitae; certification in youth ministry; Chuck Weber; Cathedral rectory chapel; Sister Viola Heichelbech; Adam Urban

July 15, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Immigration Protest/Rally; Faith and Light Fiesta; Seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls; Corpus Christi procession; Prayers for priests; Sisters turn 100; Michael Brungardt; Gerald Vincke; Massacre in San Salvador; Action for Alex 

 

June 3, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Parish Pray for Priestly Vocations; Appeal reaches $10 million; Gangs; Seminarians; Pam Willis; Why I like being a priest; Happy Father's Day; Patricia Lujan; Tyler and Rachel Bennett; Adoption Protection Act.

May 20, 2018
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Track meet; Beloved Sinners; Benjamin Martin retires; Smiles; Future of Fortune Telling; Hoisington mission; DofI; Getting Equipped; Spring Social; First Communion; Confirmation
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Track meet; Beloved Sinners; Benjamin Martin retires; Smiles; Future of Fortune Telling; Hoisington mission; DofI; Getting Equipped; Spring Social; First Communion; Confirmation

May 6, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Archbishop Romero; Seeing, Touching, Tasting; Exhortation; Father Patrick Conroy; Happy Mother's Day; A child on your doorstep; Vibrant Ministries Grant; From the heart of a young father; Love Gives Life; Roman Holiday; Smartphone; retirement
Fossil Hunting

 

April 15, 2018

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Easter Vigil; Angelica Village; Colorado woman; The art of anger; Cimarron Couple; Staats; Adoption; 

Father Ultan Murphy anniversary; Coughlan; Spiritual Advisor to Hoodlums; Woman of Courage; Oration contest; Darcy Feist  

 

April 1, 2018

 

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Defending Adoption; Led by the Spirit; Knights; ABC Pregnancy Center;
Memorial of Mary; Homeless; Relics; Down syndrome abortion; Chrism Mass

 

March 18, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: SKYAC; Aleksandr Men; Fasting for Priestly Vocations; Uganda; School for deaf; Rannah Evetts; Oberle; Rachel and Doug Trombley; Oscar Romero; Paul VI; DACA

 

 

March 4, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Fasting for priestly vocations; Father Juan; Fasting and prayer;
Quest Weekend 2018; DACA; With God, anything is possible; Homelessness in our communities; Rhubarb, Kansas;
What's the point of fasting; Rite of Election; same-sex couples

 

Feb. 18, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Catholic Schools Week; Rachel Doll; Ellinwood; Great Bend; Garden City; Ness City; Dodge City; Sister Rita Schwarzenberger; Nigeria; Bishop Hermes; Fasting for Priestly Vocations; World Day for Consecrated Life; 50th Anniversary St. Dominic School; What will life be like in 50 years?

 

 

Feb. 4, 2018

 

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: March for Life; Tracy and Ross Smith; Adoption; Vibrant Ministries; Faith and Light;
Pro-Life; Mortal sin to discard elderly; DACA; Abortion; Dreamers; Human Trafficking

 

Jan. 21, 2018

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Louise Korbe; Anne Frank; Miep Gies; Home Heat; Father Solanus

 

Jan. 7, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Good news and kingdom living; dreamers; Sister Teresa Orozco; Infant Adoption; Elderly; a moral conundrum; seminarian; feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

 

Dec. 17, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Celebrate Christmas 'unplugged'; Msgr. Matthew Smith; Klan; Catholic Charities Annual Appeal; Fr. Larry Rosebaugh; A Guadalupe Encounter; Laci and Joe Salazar; A Christmas Wish; Adoption; Confession; Advent; EWTN; Christmas Blues; Tilma; Pittsburgh; PSR

 

Dec. 3, 2017

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: 2017 NCYC; Wheel of Balance; Marita Rother; Stanley Rother; slavery; trafficking; Windthorst water damage; martyred priests; confession; reconciliation; How to go to confession; recipe for codfish cakes; Catholic schools; appeal

 

Nov. 19, 2017

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Saints; Father Kola; Black Elk; Giving Tuesday; velvet Elvis; a Slice of Time; Dani Sandoval; Mexican Village; Father Tim Hickey; New faces at chancery; priests share thoughts on confession; Wheel of Balance

 

Nov. 5, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Matrimony Anniversary Mass, 2017; Riebel; Faith and Light; Scripture Day; Sex in the Bible; Quilt, Mexican Village Story; Finance; Fatima pilgrimage; Fowler church window renovation; Medicare; Crazy Glue


Oct. 15, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Father Francis Jordan; Sister Renee Kirmer; Father Rother beatified; religious liberty; RCIA Kansas; V Encuentro; Bishop Weisenburger; Daughters of Isabella; Bishop Gerber Science Center


Oct. 1, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: De Colores; Rebein; Dreamer; Pies; Kellner; Code Quilts; Sister Crucita; Feezor; Formed.org; Sin and pain

 

 Sept. 17, 2017

 

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Sister Lucy Fidelis; Underground Railroad; Sister Irene Hartman; DACA; new priests; teachers; Volunteer of the Year; Golf Classic; St. Francis Xavier; St. Nicholas Parish Center, Kinsley; seminarians; Knights Lite; Stewardship Day 2017

Sept. 3, 2017

Aug. 13, 2017

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Coronado Cross; Masada; Moody Gardens; Elders; Rother; undocumented children; cages; year of mercy; Kumi; Hollywood makeup artist; New Mexico; refugee women.

July 16, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Summer camp; tithing and almsgiving; Bill Baalmann; Nathan Schaller; Jubilarian Sisters; Sister Hortencia Rodriguez; Sister Petrona Stockemer; Sister Denise Sevart; Convocation of Catholic Leaders; Mother talks about her son entering seminary; Arcoiris; Youth group travels to Colorado Springs; Major Phillip Roth

June 11, 2017 (Updated)

Ordination; Mark Brantley; Jacob Schneider; Father's Day; Thanks, Dad!; Appeal; Sister Mary Martin Weaver; Bishop Maralit; Budget; Trafficked women; Deacon Michael Brungardt; Dead Sea Scrolls; softball; Father Urban retirement; Sister Kravec retirement; Father Mazouch retirement; Authentic Joy; Pris Climate Accord; Jack Schramm; Pieta.

May 28, 2017 (Updated)

 

Grateful Hearts; MSFS Provincial; Reddy; Reif; Opossum; Dead Sea Scrolls; Our Lady of Fatima; Jorge Herrera, Jr.; Cursillo; Kough; First Communion; Confirmation

May 14, 2017

Esteban Hernandez; citizen; Lilly Ann Rein, Amberly Jimenez, Mother's Day; peacock; Quattrocchi; President Kennedy; Teen Moms; Junior High Youth Rally; Encounter With God's Call; granny/nanny; seniors' contributions; tornado anniversary; harvest; healthcare; Mr. Brown; Store-bought teeth; Louis and Zelie Martin; Father John Sullivan; Irish priest whose prayers could heal; Mexican beauty queen; Esmaralda Gonzalez; religious life

April 30, 2017

   KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Easter Vigil; bully; TEC; Father Marvin Reif; Bet'sie; What makes a hero?; St. Mary of the Plains; tornado

Easter, 2017

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: SKYAC; Honorable courtship; footsteps of migrants; CHRISM Mass 2017; honoring priests; Encuentro Cross blessed; Daughters of Isabella State Convention; Fatima pilgrim statue; Mary Sharon Moore interview; Senate advances pro-life measures; love must be at the core of family life; Father John Forkuoh's car story; Confirmations; Sisters of Concordia; CNN hero Father Khalil Jaar

March 26, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: From the heart; kidney; Rother; Friar Carmelo; Schnauzer; Lauren Seachris; Lauren's Treat; fire; Guatemala; immigration; Lenten Regulations 1888; Hot Cross Buns; budget; Trump; Forkuoh; Seiwert; South Sudan; hot ashes

March 12, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Refugees; immigrants; Gilbert Herrman; When you give alms'; Lent; Call to Continuing Conversion, Rite of Election; Charell and Jeremy Owings; adoption; Our Growing Church; Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia; water; creation; Sudan; Darlow Lampe

Feb 26, 2017

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Night to shine; Immigration; immigrants; Knights of Columbus; Pete Gomez; this foreign mission; Creole; Robin Doll; Eagle Scout; Quest

Feb 12, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Catholic Schools Week; March for Life; Pro-life; Executive Order; Secular Franciscan Order; teachers; Down Syndrome; Eagle Scout; Bronze Pelican

Jan. 29, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Thank you, religious; SEEK 2017; homeless man to priest; Fourth Sunday; Secret Service to Sacred Heart; Dr. Gerard Brungardt; Martin Luther King; 110 year old nun; Toddler miracle; Letter from undocumented immigrant; health care; immigration

Jan. 15, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Mary helps us share; Tighe donates home to Birthright; Pro-life billboard; Theobald Hattrup; Helen and Steve Eck; Pearl Harbor; Reigning Grace

Dec. 18, 2017

KEYWORDS: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 2016; Pope Francis Christmas schedule; 2016 high school youth rally; Aerospace engineer; Father Stanley Rother; Radio station; Dying girl's letter; Scout nominations; 12 days of Christmas

Dec. 4, 2016

KEYWORDS: Vocations Day; Pope Advent advice; Ex-prostitute; Spearville mission; Pilgrims v. Zombies; Face of God; Mission bazaar; Ness City fall festival; Rural health care; Archbishop Gomez; Bishops congratulate Trump

Nov. 20, 2016

Nov. 6, 2016

Oct. 23, 2016

Oct. 9, 2016


Sept. 25, 2016


Sept. 11, 2016

 
Aug. 7, 2016

July 10, 2016

June 12, 2016

May 29, 2016

May 8, 2016


 April 24, 2016

 April 10, 2016

 March 27, 2016

March 13, 2016

Feb. 28, 2016

 

Feb. 14, 2016


Jan. 31 , 2016

Jan. 17, 2016

Dec. 20, 2015

Dec. 6, 2015

Nov. 15, 2015

Nov. 1, 2015

Oct. 18, 2015

Oct. 4, 2015

Sept. 20, 2015

Sept. 6, 2015

August 9, 2015

July 12, 2015

Jun 14, 2015

May 17, 2015

May 3, 2015

April 19, 2015

Easter, 2015

 

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