Jesuits West Province announced a new prison ministry – Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative Northwest (JRJINW). The seeds for this initiative were planted in 2015, when Jennifer Kelly and her rock band played a concert at Monroe Correctional Center in Washington. Upon meeting an inmate who had been praying for years to make an Ignatian retreat, Kelly was moved by grace and touched by the generosity of spirit and gratitude of the inmates to explore the possibility of doing something about that prayer.
Kelly spent almost a year preparing for this ministry by working with Father Mike Kennedy, SJ, founder and director of the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative (JRJI) in California, traveling once a month to be part of the JRJI team that offers the Spiritual Exercises to the incarcerated in California.
With the support of Jesuits West Provincial Father Scott Santarosa, SJ, JRJINW offered its first retreat on October 29, 2016 to the inmates of Monroe Correctional Facility. Andrew Carrell (formerly of JRJI California), Father Pat Kelly, SJ, from Seattle University, and Jennifer Kelly’s husband Gerry Scully joined the team for its second retreat at Monroe on January 28, 2017. Since then, there have been three additional retreats with more planned for 2018.
This ministry relies on the leadership of Jennifer Kelly and the generous self-sacrifice of other volunteers. The Province provides a small stipend for supplies and marginal costs. This work will develop slowly and carefully and only with volunteer help. Two more prisons are currently inquiring about the possibility of bringing retreats to their facilities.