Dear Friends of Adeodatus-Gift of God,
As you can see, we are now adding the translation of Adeodatus (“Gift of God”) when we refer to ourselves. It will help us to be recognized without the constant need to translate. As you may know, Adeodatus/Gift of God was the name of St. Augustine’s son. It is how we desire to treat each person whom we serve in this ministry–a Gift of God. And you too, of course.
“The Belly of the Beast” is a street name for the Kensington neighborhood where the following interview took place. The remarks are from Ed Zampitella, a Catholic layman who is a “street minister” there. Awakened by Christ from a dead-end path himself, Ed is putting into practice Pope Francis’ recent challenge to Catholics: “I want the Church to take to the streets.” The interview took place at “The Last Stop,” a drop-in center that Ed founded there. More specifically, it is in a reclaimed patch of land behind the clubhouse, now a garden with sunflowers and tomatoes and a statue of Jesus Christ with a barbed wire crown around his head.
Click here to download this issue and to read the interview.
Greetings from The Edge! Please take a moment to read our latest newsletter – “A Mother’s Cry”.
In August, 2010, a hot Summer morning on my way to work, I got a call no mother wants to get—“Your son
was shot.” After getting that call, my belly started to flip, my hands became shaky, my heart was beating fast
while I walked down this long road to get to work. I must say that I didn’t know what to do. The first thing I
did was call home to see if my daughter had any information. When I was calling her, someone was at the
door to tell her the news as well. It seems like it took me forever to get to
the hospital, and at this time I didn’t know if my son was dead or alive.
When I finally arrived at the hospital, my son was pronounced dead and
taken to the morgue. Dead, and only twenty years old. I found out later
that he was trying to stop his friend from getting robbed.
Greetings from The Edge! As you may notice, we are changing the name of our newsletter. Why? As striking as “Voices From Prison” is, everyone doesn’t particularly relate to prison. In some way, everyone relates to “The Edge.” We want to move forward with our core concern for those who are incarcerated, but cast our net out wider to all who may sometimes feel on the edge.
What is The Edge?
A place where you feel lost…alone…broke…abandoned.
A place of failed marriage…a nowhere job or no job.
A place of feeling or no feeling.
A place where you are afraid…confused…angry…in pain.
A place of darkness…and yet somehow light?
A place of disconnection…or the beginning of real connection? with reality…with others in their pain and despair…with God?
From this Edge, voices call out to the Center:
What’s going on? Are you with us?
Together can we turn this around?
We are all on The Edge.
The Edge may be the true Center.
We want to hear your voice.
Will you listen to one of ours?
It is the cry of the mother of a mentally ill young man who murdered a neighbor during a psychotic break:
I am searching, searching for meaning in all this. How did we end up here? Why? How do we accept this? Should we accept this, really? How do we manage the anger, the loss of faith? How do we live now? How do we begin to heal? Tell us what we are supposed to do, God! We are waiting for signs, answers.
I pray constantly for answers. I find myself repeating the Hail Mary over and over again— When I awake, while walking the dog, in the shower, running to work— “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee…” I wonder, is the Lord really with us? Why has God forsaken us, I ask!
We worked hard. We were determined to beat this mental illness thing. My boy, he suffered so much. I had faith that together we could figure it out. I felt sure he would thrive— I believed with God by his side, he could become the man he wanted to be— A kind, sensitive, effective young man.
I am desperately searching for Peace. I am hoping the deep, profound sadness that tortures my heart will somehow lift! I pray this nightmare will pass. My boy prays too. He prays for a miracle, his miracle. Oh, that the violent episode was merely a delusion of his mind. And that his guardian angel really could protect and save us from ourselves and others. Together we cry. We wait for God’s sign. I pray “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee?
Do you hear her last plaintive question? “Is the Lord really with you, Mary? And with us too? We shouldn’t be afraid to ask these questions. Whether due to a personal tragedy that erupts in your family, or one that erupts nationally as in the gun deaths of the children in Newtown, Connecticut. Have you abandoned us, Lord? Even Jesus asked that on the cross. As long as we are addressing this to God, we haven’t lost faith.
In this New Year, we look forward to your being part of a “blog” we have begun at www.adeodatusministry.com. We very much want to hear your voice in our new conversation with people from The Edge. We want to reach out to hear the voices of people in our society who often are not heard in the mainstream conversation. People like those in prison. People like their families, and the families of the victims of violence. People like the mother who calls out up above.
Remember, God became a child—Jesus. Because of this, God is with us in life. No matter what age we become, no matter what color, class or faith, God is in every child. So impossibly awesome is this mystery of love that we may not remember him looking out through our eyes as we experienced life as a child. Lord, open our old tired eyes again, Open them to see again, to believe again, to live our faith again that God became a child, God is in every child. God is in you. Who would dare to harm such a child? This is the message we want you to help us cry out from The Edge.
Join our support group–for ex-inmates and those who work for their reintegration into society–on Thursday nights (7:30 to 9:00). On the first Thursday of the month we meet at the Bevilacqua Center at Kensington and Lehigh Aves, Philadelphia. On all other Thursdays we meet at St. Rita of Cascia rectory 1126 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia. Through prayer, the Gospel and Christian fellowship we offer strength to meet the challenges of life in this world. You are not alone.
Fr. Paul Morrissey OSA
ADROP – Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor
Don’t forget now. Jump into our conversation on this topic. Thank you.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee?
THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD CRY OUT FROM THEIR PRISON
Paul F. Morrissey, OSA
Greetings from Philadelphia! Greetings from The Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor. Greetings from “Oliver” and all of the vulnerable children in this city and throughout the world.
“Oliver,” the seventh grade parochial school kid who speaks in the attached newsletter, is each of us. He represents all vulnerable young people—can you remember yourself back then? He and his little brothers are afraid when confronted by other young people who point a gun at them in the streets. In Oliver’s words, there is “a fire burning out of control in their minds.” And this is how it is in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.
In what country do you live? In what city or village? Surely you hear of—or see with your own eyes—these threats and actual killings today. Young people, the ones whom Jesus put his arms around and identified with, are in a prison of fear. They are forced to fight for their lives. What kind of world is this? What kind of parenting or non-parenting do they have? What kind of poverty drives this violence? (In Philadelphia in 2011, 40% of children live below the official poverty level. If you are in Africa or Latin America, I am sure your children live much poorer than this.)
St. Augustine said, “The superfluous goods of the rich are the necessary goods for the poor. The rich possess things which belong to others.” Augustine believed in the radical Christian teaching of sharing all things in common. Acts: 2: 41-7. Do you?
We are invited by the story of Oliver to examine our way of life. We have the power to create bridges of peace between these warring children. We have the ability to build bridges between our suburbs and our cities, between our schools/universities and the urban clinics and jails. Will we?
75% of the children of those in prison will be incarcerated themselves at sometime in their lives. This wheel must be broken, the cycle of poverty and crime stopped, even if only for financial reasons. Every prison inmate costs that taxpayer approximately $30,000./year. Restorative Justice is the movement to turn our Punitive Justice model around before it is too late.
Restorative Justice is concerned about restoring the balance that is broken by a crime—at the very least the balance of right relationships between the families of the offenders and the families of the victims. It is a wake up call to those who have committed a crime that there are consequences. The consequences of a crime affect a person’s own family, their victims and their families, and the larger community. Are you in prison from this crime?
“Oliver” and the children of the poor call out to you–“HELP!” Can you hear him and help him and his brothers and sisters? Please (download and) disseminate this newsletter and use it to awaken Philadelphia and your city before it is too late. Remember what the kid with the gun said to Oliver, “We will get you next time.” www.rightsofthepoor.org.
Greetings from Philadelphia! In this issue, we offer a few voices fromyoung people in our city to touch your heart. The first is from “Oliver,” a seventh grader in one of our parochial schools.
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Winter 2012 (click for pdf)