Bishop Visits Jail on Christmas Day
For the first time, Bishop David Malloy also meets with women at Winnebago County Jail.
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
January 10, 2019
ROCKFORD— For the seventh time since becoming Bishop of the Diocese of Rockford in May 2012 Bishop David Malloy celebrated Mass on Christmas Day for men inmates at the Winnebago County Jail.
This year for the first time he was able to minister also to a roomful of female inmates. An earlier than usual Mass time for the men made it possible to arrange for him to bring the Eucharist upstairs to a classroom of women inmates.
Taking advantage of that surprise opportunity, Bishop Malloy read the Gospel and re-focused his earlier homily to the women before him. Following distribution of the Eucharist, he lingered to greet and talk with each of the women inmates just as he had done with the men who attended the Mass.
On his way out, the bishop inquired of a guard about the steps necessary to arrange a similar communion service for women inmates at his next visit to the jail, traditionally at Easter. He also expressed his willingness to celebrate Mass for the women after his usual Mass for the men, if that would be possible.
That Catholic guard — one of two who had received the Eucharist after the service — noted that the happier attitude of the women as they exited the classroom was reason enough to try to accommodate his request.
In his homily for both groups, Bishop Malloy encouraged his listeners to read the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke — the story of the nativity. He asked them to imagine themselves with the shepherds, saying “we need to find a way to enter into” the true meaning of Christmas.
“What does this (scene) say to me, and what do I do?” he asked, answering, “There’s something of eternity, and you and I have to enter into it.”
The love of Christ, initiated by Him, “cannot be a one-way street,” Bishop Malloy said. For both groups, he suggested ways they could respond to the love of Jesus in their current surroundings. He also acknowledged the sorrows inherent to their day away from their loved ones outside the jail walls.
As he has other times, Bishop Malloy encouraged inmates to make good use of their time in jail to grow closer to Christ.
Again this year three volunteers who work with jail ministry — Jim Brooke, Deacon Steven Pulkrabek and Laura Ortiz — assisted Bishop Malloy with Mass and the visit with women on Christmas morning at the jail.