A Word from Your Editors
This online magazine provides a place to hear the voices of associates/religious in response to other voices. It promotes regional workshops, publications, national survey results and unique associate programs. The Associate increases the impact of our thinking and our living beyond our local activities to a profound presence of good work, insightful thinking and reaching out to the marginalized by sharing all that we are doing in mission with our religious congregations throughout the world. As you read this issue, see how God challenges those who believe in (in Jesus’ words) “to go forth.” Each associate hears the voice and answers the call of evangelization through (their) religious congregations. Join us by reading, reflecting and responding and become a NACAR voice in our magazine.
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Associate Conni Dubick, Dominican Sisters of Peace
Sister Elizabeth Avalos, Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Associates Behind Prison Walls
In the spring of 2003, Sister Elizabeth Determan and I, Sister Angela Houska, members of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, started talking about the possibility of an associate program for the incarcerated. For many years, Sister Elizabeth had been visiting and writing to prisoners in the Oklahoma area. We put together a special correspondence program for the prisoners who wanted to be associates.
The United States region is made up of three geographical areas: Eastern (Columbia, Penn.); Central (Ruma, Ill.); and Western (Wichita, Kan.). Our regional mission center is in St. Louis, Mo., and our national coordinator, Sister Helen Moore, a member of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, has an office in Ruma, Ill.
The Western region has a unique associate program for incarcerated persons. Throughout the western area, there are 17 groups of associates with different cultures and situations, from a university campus to a Navajo reservation and to the confines of prison.
“I am so impressed by the Sisters' love, compassion and dedication that I have a desire to emulate them. My greatest challenge is to allow the light of the Risen Christ to shine through me in the dark corridors of daily life in prison.”
Sisters Elizabeth and I went to the prison to visit those who had asked to be candidates. Our first associate, Michael, was a very zealous candidate. He made powerful waves in the prison system. He started a core of associates that brought our spirit into a place that has much need for compassion and reconciliation.
Michael wrote. “I am so impressed by the Sisters' love, compassion and dedication that I have a desire to emulate them. My greatest challenge is to allow the light of the Risen Christ to shine through me in the dark corridors of daily life in prison.” Michael died in prison about a year after he became an associate.
Another associate, Angela, who was originally from Iran, said, “As an associate of the Blood of Christ, I want to bring God’s compassionate, reconciling love to the lonely and needy. I am moved by our foundress, Saint Maria De Mattias, in her dedication to the adoration of the Precious Blood.… Because of my Christian faith, the prayers of the Sister Adorers, and my membership as an adorer associate, I avoided being sent back to Iran to be stoned to death.”
One of our male associates who is incarcerated for life has become very active in the church. He aids the priest who comes to say Mass, has religion classes for his fellow inmates, works with the RCIA and writes pamphlets about aspects of the spiritual life.
After the prisoners have completed the course of study for the associate program, on-going formation is provided by Sister Sophia Kammer, a member of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, who is the coordinator of incarcerated associates, with articles on adoration, Precious Blood spirituality, prayer and social issues. They respond to the articles and let her know other aspects of our charism that they would like to study.
As a religious community and associate program, we have received many graces and much inspiration from our associates behind prison walls.
Sister Angela Houska,
Adorers of the Blood of Christ