The following comes from a Feb. 14 story in the Angelus news of the L.A. archdiocese.
Angelina (who wants to remain anonymous) says, “My life has been changed since my son went away. He was with me all the time. Now I am isolated. I feel really sad. Because I was thinking my son was going to take care of me in my old age. So living this life without him is very hard. And there is no way to protect him inside the prison. As a mother, I feel so bad.”
“Does your faith help?”
“Now my faith is more strong because I can feel God’s presence in my life,” she confides. “It is the only way I can survive with this situation. It’s a terrible injustice, and I believe God is just. So I believe my son will come back to me.”=
The conversation takes place at Holy Family Service Center across the street from St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood. Since Jan. 12, the center has also been home to the Ministry of Assistance to Families of the Incarcerated, which the Los Angeles Archdiocese is offering through its Office of Life, Justice and Peace.
The new ministry’s mission is to support families — especially families of immigrants — with a member in jail or state prison. They face a number of barriers: language, culture, education, housing, medical care and, perhaps most formidable, having hardly any knowledge of the U.S. legal and justice systems.
….During his nearly two decades at Men’s Central, Deacon Paulino Juarez saw firsthand the problems inmates’ families face without a breadwinner. Some didn’t have food. Others got evicted. Most were first- or second-generation Latinos who spoke little or no English. Most didn’t know their legal rights or the services they qualified for.
The deacon from St. Genevieve Church in Panorama City kept telling himself, ‘OK, I can do this.’
He pitched the idea to leaders of the archdiocese, who liked it. So he talked to fellow deacon Louis Roche, who already had a ministry to the homeless at St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood. And on Jan. 11, the two became co-coordinators of the Ministry of Assistance to Families of the Incarcerated.
….The ministry is now up and running. Referrals for psychological, medical and legal assistance are being made. An email blast has gone out to other deacons and pastors explaining what the center has to offer — ministering to troubled families with members behind bars.