“Even if you may not know God very well, I can assure you that he loves you very, very much.” These words were written by Ellie, a student participating in the Cards of Mercy project, on a card destined for the San Francisco jails.

The Cards of Mercy project, coordinated by the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s Restorative Justice Ministry, invites schools and faith formation programs to design cards with bright designs and warm messages of hope. These cards are then given to those in custody in the jails for various holidays during the year.

“We must act and show a light of hope, giving assurance to people behind bars that they will never be alone, abandoned, or forgotten by him,” explained Julio Escobar, Restorative Justice coordinator.

This year students from Our Lady of the Visitacion School (San Francisco), Holy Name School (San Francisco), St. Brendan Parish (San Francisco), Mater Dolorosa Parish (South San Francisco), St. Patrick Parish (Larkspur) and St. Mark Parish (Belmont) participated in the Easter project, sending in beautifully designed cards filled with messages of love and hope.

That wasn’t the end of the project, though. On April 13, a group of volunteers — lay and religious, youth and adults — gathered and spent the day assembling goody bags to be distributed inside the jails. The bags included snacks as well as cards. Some included the handmade cards from the student projects, while others were store-bought, with personalized messages written in those as well. Some of the volunteers wrote messages in Spanish, to better ensure the individuals would get a card that they could understand.

“A card with a nice message gives hope and joy to someone who may not have family,” said Josephine Smith, one of the day’s volunteers.

During the day of the project, the volunteers formed a sort of assembly line, with some labelling the bags and adding treats, others writing messages, and others counting and sorting cards. Students from Mercy High School and Stella Maris Academy came for shifts during the day, contributing their talents to the project….

Dominican Sister Diane Smith reflected that we all make errors in our lives, although some lead to serious consequences. “Preparing Cards of Mercy for prisoners was a wonderful way to show these poor people that someone cares about them,” she said….

Bags were also assembled for the staff of the jails, to spread Easter greetings to them as well. “The morale in the jail is really, really low right now,” Robinson stated….

The cards were for each of the 850 inmates in the San Francisco County jails at Hall of Justice in San Francisco and in San Bruno. Another 50 were specially designated for the guards and staff of the jails….

The above comes  from an April 14 story in Catholic San Francisco.