Tonight was our spring retreat for the men at Rayburn Prison, hosted by our Catholic Community. 165 men gathered in the chapel, many members of our own St. Peter Catholic Community and guests invited by the men. They were gathered together to pray and hear presentations from Fr. Joe Palermo, an Archdiocesan Priest from our major seminary in New Orleans and Sister Judy Gomilla, now a "regular" as this was her 3rd visit to the prison.
Our speakers focused on prayer, prayer life and praying with the Scriptures. Father Joe had a beautiful power point presentation to helped demonstrate his message and topped off the evening by showing the men how to pray with Scripture, based on the story of blind Bartimaeus from the Gospel of Mark. He invented the men to share, in front of the whole group, and we were blessed that 6 or 7 men indeed shared how the Gospel passage spoke to them in their own prayer.
Sister Judy encouraged the men to see in themselves the dignity that each possesses from God and the reality that even with prison life, nothing can stop them from a deep intimate relationship with Jesus. She composed a prayer, utilizing the name of several candy bars to share with them that anything and everything can be an opportunity to offer prayer!
By the way, the men were feed tonight with 105 boxes of pizza and 15 boxes of breadsticks! Each inmate was able to eat 5 pieces of pizza; not necessarily healthy but for each of them quite the treat!
Once again, a visit to Rayburn, where I have been going for over 8 years, never ceases to amaze me. Tonight was spiritually moving and satisfying as I experienced all these men in prayer, growing ever closer to God as they work out their salvation, like all us, with fear and trembling, and hope and joy!