Zero Programs

Re “Justice for Juniors” (Editorial, 7/15): Here in Maryland we have an incompetent Department of Juvenile Justice “functioning” in an outmoded statutory framework. It provides some services at the lower end of the seriousness scale. For youth who approach age 18 with past offenses, the placements and programs diminish to virtually zero.

Governors and legislators do some “blah-blah” about this around election time, but then do nothing of lasting value. Is that because many or most of the youth come from poor families whose needs can more easily be neglected by those we elect?

Also, understand that some youth may have vaulted themselves into adulthood and are not amenable to measures, programs and placements designed for juveniles. I am a retired juvenile court judge and frequently hear such cases when recalled to court.

Dennis M. McHugh

Rockville, Md.

Visiting the Prisoners

It was with a sense of joy and hope that I read “Prison Breakthrough,” by Valerie Schultz (7/5). I was delighted that she came to understand the heart of prison ministry: cooperating with the Holy Spirit to create a community of faith with people for whom the very notion of a real faith-life and a vibrant religious community were either suspect or totally lacking.

From 1982 to 1991 I was the Catholic chaplain at Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon, N.Y. During those years I had the assistance of bright, capable lay men and women from St. Mary’s Church in Wappingers Falls; St Columba’s in Hopewell Junction; and the great support of a dynamic couple who have made criminal justice their life’s work, Mr. and Mrs. Cypser of Katonah. The Cursillo movement inspired them to minister, and I am grateful to these men and women for their selfless ministry to men and women in prison.

Without their assistance, no doubt the ministry at Fishkill would have been very much diminished. They made it possible for us to have three Residents Encounter Christ retreats each year for nine years. It was a time of great grace for me, as well. I thank Mrs. Schultz for reminding me of those great years when I had the God-given opportunity to devote my younger life in ministry to those men in great need.

(Rev.) Theodore K. Parker

Detroit, Mich.

Border Guard

Re “Dream On” (Editorial, 7/19): Prior to attempting to enact immigration reform legislation, it might be beneficial for the federal government to show some good faith by enforcing existing laws. What is the purpose of reforming immigration laws if they will be ignored, as existing laws evidently are? Whatever reform is achieved will almost inevitably irritate someone. In order to have any chance of success with compromise, the federal government must show that they will enforce what is enacted; and they must start with keeping the borders as safe as we can reasonably keep them.

Michael S. Collins

Myersville, Md.

Voice of the Thankful

Thank you to the editors of America for recognizing that Voice of the Faithful is making a valuable contribution to the life of the church we all love so much (Current Comment, 7/19). Too many priests will not allow us to meet as Catholic laity in our own churches. Too many bishops regard us as the enemy. But we are not deterred, because it is essential for Catholic laypeople to be empowered and encouraged to become active and outspoken members of the body of Christ at this critical time in our life as a global community of faith. Everyone’s voice must be heard as we work to discern the right path forward. (Congratulations to the National Leadership Roundtable for the great work it does and to so many of the new lay-led movements across the church.) The Spirit is calling, and people are responding.

Francis Piderit

New York, N.Y.

Truth With Clarity

Re “Rules of Engagement” (7/19): In 2008, at the Catholic Media Convention in Toronto, Federico Lombardi, S.J., the director of the Holy See’s press office, shared some observations about the pope speaking to the world and working with modern media. These included having a positive attitude toward the other; highlighting first and foremost the beauty of Christian life; trusting in reason and having patience; telling the truth with clarity as well as simplicity and avoiding ambiguity, intentional concealment or even reticence in dealing with the truth; and being yourself.

We Catholics have the opportunity to participate in the world with the benefit of values taught by Christ and his church as well as the graces of life in communion with divine providence. It may seem unduly simplistic, but living in love and truth in this world makes us fruitful.

Bob O’Connell

Lake Forest, Ill.

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