Father Mike anoints the hands of Sylmar youth after meditation.
Since its founding in 2009, JRJI has continued and expanded the work that Father Michael Kennedy S.J. has been doing for the past 20 years. As co-chaplain a Sylmar Juvenile Hall, Father Michael Kennedy S.J. has been able to garner the trust of the young men and women there who look to him not only for spiritual guidance, but also as a life mentor.
Many of the boys and girls are facing sentences of 10, 20, and 25 years-to-life sentences in prison without the hope of ever going home. Most of these youth, who are imprisoned for decades, are youth that have been abandoned or abused. The physical, mental and emotional trauma they have suffered at such a young age is devastating. Imagine what happens to young minds when they are told that society does not want them and that they must now go spend their entire lives in a 9x12 cell! They are sent to prison in the name of justice, but justice is not served by doing so. The system has not taken into account that these children are also victims. We need a healing process for these young offenders and their victims. Without it, we fail time and time again to live up to our own values and principles. The one thing we cannot do as a society and people of God is to turn our backs on our children.
By going into juvenile hall and providing a weekly meditation, which are based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, JRJI has had the unique experience of guiding these young men and women in their journeys, both with God and the world. JRJI has in many cases become a second family to these youngsters as we continue to follow up with them throughout their incarceration and, if they are lucky, when they are free.
JESUIT RESTORATIVE JUSTICE INITIATIVE 8501 Washington Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232 (310) 559-0777 • firstname.lastname@example.org