Ministering to our brothers and sisters
Allow me to write briefly about two important parts of my ministry as your bishop: visiting those in prison and also visiting our migrant workers, two topics developed at length in this issue of FAITH magazine. It is my hope that this may motivate some of you to engage in these corporal/spiritual works of mercy.
We have, as you know, many county jails. Local priests, deacons and laity visit them regularly. We have found that some county sheriffs are more accommodating than others, but those who visit and take holy Communion to the prisoners report great spiritual satisfaction. We also have one federal penitentiary in our diocese, at Milan. My yearly Mass and visit there is a great grace for me. The men there are so appreciative that it is really very humbling. Again, local clergy and laity cover the regular Masses and visits the rest of the year. I particularly enjoy the occasional confirmation here and at the other prisons.
We also have several state penitentiaries, many located near Jackson and Adrian. Again I try to get to each of these once a year. We have one women’s prison located near Ann Arbor, which I visited for the first time last year. I had thought that the women there were being visited by a bishop from Detroit, since most of the lay involvement comes from the Archdiocese of Detroit. Finding out that has not been the case, I felt deep remorse, especially when one lady told me she had been there more than 30 years and had not seen a bishop. Mea culpa!
Another beautiful part of the ministry of this diocese is our service to the many migrant workers who serve on the many large farms especially in Livingston, Lenawee and Clinton counties. My Spanish is quite poor, which makes the work done by so many volunteers quite impressive to me; they do not let language be a barrier. I try to imitate them.
Deacon Ray Pizana and his wife, Grace, have been involved in this ministry for many years. Their loving work was recognized by the Holy Father back in 2012 when they both received the Benemerenti Medal from Rome. Of course, they do not make this generous gift of themselves for a medal but out of love.
Their lives, and the lives of so many migrants and prisoners, call out to all of us to share ourselves with those whom Jesus calls his brothers and sisters. God give us the grace to respond generously.