By Sister Donna Liette, CPPS

In the spirit of Pope Francis declaring a Year of Mercy on Dec. 8, we participated in a Chicago-wide day of healing. Several years ago, the group I represent, the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, helped initiate this day of healing.

We gathered with women living in a shelter and listened to their stories of being forgotten, lonely, abused and abandoned by their children’s fathers. They cried for healing, love and the comforts of a home. As they felt heard, I could see their healing begin.

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We also assembled a group consisting of Chicago police officers, youth, and parents and each spoke their truth — of struggle and frustration, of feeling racially profiled, of losing a child to gun violence or incarceration. After 90 minutes of talk, each participant described in one word how the conversation had left them. They used words such as “inspired, honored, heard, thankful, hopeful, relentless determination, healed.”

A short time later, we knocked on the barred door of the Corner Store, a business known for drug activity and shootings. The door was opened to us and others from the neighborhood: gang members, youth, parents, homeless individuals and gunshot-paralyzed people in wheelchairs.

As the talking began, you could feel the group bonding, listening to one another’s fears, frustrations and concerns for peace and healing. Each appreciated the conversation.

One of the families we met had great news to share: their son, Gerald Rice, who was sentenced to life without parole in 1985 at age 17, was about to be released from prison. He will be coming home on Feb. 18 as a 47-year-old man. Throughout his time in prison, his family wrote and supported him, and never gave up hope that someday he could return to them.

On this day of hope, we joined with those in Rome and throughout the city and world, opening doors, offering healing and mercy and tenderness. It is a jubilee year and as men and women of the Precious Blood, are we not expected to heal and offer tenderness in our broken world?

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We publish this blog with permission from the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in Chicago, which works with young people making the transition from incarceration. The Adorers of the Blood of Christ are part of the Precious Blood family of religious priests, brothers and sisters.

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