Archbishop Gregory Aymond made his annual Holy Thursday pastoral visit to the Orleans Parish Justice Center today and told dozens of inmates that though they remain largely hidden from the world's view, they are never forgotten by God.
"Why are we washing your feet today?" the archbishop asked. "We want you to know that we think of you. You are out of our sight because we don't see you here as residents, but you're not out of our minds, and you're not out of our hearts. Every day I lift you in prayer to the Lord and ask the Lord to be close to you and to wash your feet."
Before washing the feet of 12 inmates – six men and six women – the archbishop told them that God has boundless mercy and forgiveness.
"You are valuable to us, but even more important, you are valuable to God," he said. "None of us is perfect. We have all sinned. We have all done what is wrong at times. But we are here to remind you that you are valuable to God, that God loves you. God loves us in spite of our sinfulness, in light of our challenges, in light of our problems. So, by what we do here today with you and for you, we want to tell you that Jesus is caring for you, not just today, but all the days that you are here and beyond your being here in the future."
He told the prisoners "there is nothing that we have done in our lives that is so great and so terrible that God cannot forgive. In fact, the Scriptures tell us about us giving our sins over to the Lord and he throws them into the ocean. ... We cannot change the past. None of us can. But we can make the future different. And that's what we're here to tell you today – that God loves you. As you have asked for his mercy, he gives you that mercy, and he wants you to make your future different."