In August of 2005, I drove away from the gates of New Folsom Prison for the last time as a Jesuit Volunteer. My year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps was hands down the most transformational experience of my life. It is an experience from which I regularly draw new wisdom, inspiration, and self-understanding.
As a full-time prison chaplain, I learned how to actively and effectively share Christ’s love and compassion to the men inmates of the maximum-security prison. I also learned how to show this love and compassion to the administrators, correctional officers, and other prison staff. What most astounded me was the profound love and care that several of the men inmates showed me. To this day, I consider the C-Yard chapel in New Folsom Prison to be the place where I feel most safe physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Since completing my year in JVC, I’ve lived in six different cities and the bulk of my professional career has been dedicated to high school and university campus ministry at Jesuit institutions. This work and ministry have surely been life-giving. However, as I continue to listen to the desires that lie deepest in my heart, I return to prison over and over again. The desire to serve men in a prison was planted in me as a Jesuit Volunteer and simply has not left.
Therefore, my plan is to respond to this desire and to take a leap of faith this summer. I will move to Sacramento and pursue work in prison ministry. As the old JVC motto says, I truly was "ruined for life."