ROCKFORD—For the fifth straight year, Bishop David Malloy celebrated the joy of Jesus’ birth at Mass with the inmates of the Winnebago County Jail on Christmas morning. Bishop Malloy talked about the hope of Christmas and shared excerpts from Pope Francis’ Christmas message which also talked about hope.
“Hope is the strength to keep moving forward … our love can show us a new path,” the bishop said. “I pray you don’t lose hope and know that it is possible to be forgiven,” Bishop Malloy said.
He also asked the 33 men — in English and Spanish — to use their time in jail to read the Bible, specifically the first and second chapters of Luke and place themselves in the story. He asked them to pray for the personnel that care for them and to pray for their own families “as you reflect on why you are here.”
After the Mass, Bishop Malloy talked to each inmate. One inmate, Michael, said he looked forward to the Mass and especially liked the “stuff about the pope.”
Inmate Ryan Rice Sr. said,” I’ve had the great opportunity to do the readings the last two years. It’s a blessing. It’s a blessing to know I have the opportunity to turn my life around.”
First time inmate Sal Cribari became tearful as he talked about the importance of having the bishop spend Christmas at the jail. “I’ve never been in jail before and it’s nice to know we aren’t forgotten.”
Leading the music for the Mass were Laura Ortiz and Jim Brooke from Rockford Reachout Jail Ministry.