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Finding Freedom in Lock Up:
U. S. A. | APOSTOLATE | NEWS
Fathers and sons discover God is at work in lives of inmates at Louisiana maximum security prison

angola prison
Group poses by the bus that took them to the Angola maximum security prison.

Angola, Louisiana – “Who would ever think you could spend a weekend at the largest maximum security prison and then be eager to return again with your friends and family?  Never again will greater hospitality, welcome, love and friendship be extended to us as we experienced from the hundreds of men we were fortunate to meet at Angola.”

These are the words of Tom Rosencrants, one of about 30 men and their teenage sons from the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Georgia, who participated in a mission last month to Louisiana’s State Penitentiary at Angola, Louisiana.  Among the group were some members of Regnum Christi, thanks to the work of Fr. Peter Devereux, LC.

Surprisingly, Tom called the 18,000 acre property on the east bank of the Mississippi River “quite pretty,” including several churches and chapels, an on-site Bible college and a working farm.

Tom wrote about his impressions during the early morning trip home after leaving the prison.  He said emphatically that “words can´t seem to do it justice.”  He called his experience “life altering for every man and boy alike. We prayed, we laughed, we cried, we talked, we joked, we sang and our hearts softened ... and enlarged.”

“We went there thinking we were going to minister to these ‘poor souls,’ but in God´s perfect plan, these men ministered to us!” said Jim O’Day, who organized the group, sponsored as an activity prior to the Georgia Catholic Men´s Conference. 

Warden Burl Cain told Tom that their group was the first ever Catholics to come en-mass and stay overnight at the prison. 

“Warden Cain has done an incredible job turning around what used to be the country´s most dangerous prison,” said Jim. “He did this primarily by incorporating faith and moral values including respect and hope into the inmates lives.”

“Seeing Warden Cain´s handiwork firsthand, and to see the response of the staff and population to him, is to understand you are in the presence of a living saint,” said Tom.  “May the Lord keep him healthy and active at age 70.”

Tom said the other deputy wardens are “magnificent men, and it is most heartening to know many in the next generation of Louisiana prison leaders…are able disciples, well-educated and sincere men who love their flock.”

Among the “flock” of inmates Tom described “a community with hundreds of men who live for each other and for the grace of God -- so very many of them are now good, holy men on their way to heaven.  I have no doubt they will be there. I will be proud to join them.”

Jim requested prayers in support of Fr. Cary Bani, the Angola Prison chaplain, who is also the full time pastor of two Baton Rouge, Louisiana parishes. “We need to keep Fr. Bani in our prayers for the incredible work he is doing all alone, as the sole shepherd for three very distinct congregations. May God continue to bless Father and give him the strength, energy and commitment to continue this very demanding ministry with which the Lord has blessed him.”
“God bless Angola, and God bless the Legion of Christ for giving me the opportunity to visit there,” Tom wrote in closing. “If anyone wonders if God exists, we can show them irrefutable proof ... it is just a short drive from Baton Rouge.”

Click here to read a testimony from another mission participant, Andy Oreffice, who attended with his teenage son Kyle.  Click here to see a video from the mission.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2011-10-19


 
 

Related links

Altius Foundation
Catholic World Mission
Helping Hands Medical Missions
St Rafael Guizar y Valencia Missionary Center


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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.


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