Comfort, Redemption, Hope at Christmas in Jail
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
January 9, 2020
ROCKFORD—“We’re all here for basically the same reason ... I hope you gather a bit of spiritual strength from this (and that) you give some encouragement and some spiritual strength” to others, Bishop David Malloy said at his Christmas morning Masses at the Winnebago County Jail.
 
Belief, redemption, comfort and hope were key elements in the bishop’s homilies, first to a group of 23 men and then to a row of six women. Both groups included Catholics and non-Catholics, county and federal inmates, all seeking a bit of Christmas in an environment void of colorful trees, poinsettias and nativities.
 
With both groups the bishop pointed to words from Isaiah about how Jesus came “to restore the world” as well as “to give us comfort.”
 
“God says, ‘I still love you. I still want you with me. It’s not over,’” he paraphrased, noting “we can only receive so much forgiveness from the world ...  but it’s not full because we’ve offended God as well. That baby came to bring us God’s forgiveness.”
 
When speaking to the women, the bishop asked them if they were mothers, and of how many children. Those thoughts brought tears to a few eyes.
 
“Particularly for you as women, there is something here to think about, to meditate on, to draw strength from,” Bishop Malloy said. “We are with Mary today as she has had this child. Yes, He is the Savior.
 
That’s a part of the hope this day brings to you.”
 
At each Mass, the bishop encouraged members of his little congregations to use their time in prison well, quoting Pope Francis to not waste their time.
 
“Christmas reminds you: use the time in here to build your salvation with Christ Himself,” Bishop Malloy said. “This Christmas we are not just recalling a memory; we are truly making a statement to ourself: the baby, Christ, is God. He is alive in this world. He came, and He has stayed to redeem you and redeem me. 
 
“That’s the reason for hope. That’s the news for Christmas. And a blessed Christmas to each one of us.”
Assisting at the Mass were jail ministry volunteers Deacon Steven Pulkrabek and James Brooke.