If you’d like to join our Sisters in prayer during the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve compiled a selection of prayers written by our Sisters and others.
Praying for Women and Men Who Are Incarcerated
O God of mercy,
may we recognize the bondage within us,
for it shows us how we are one with our incarcerated sisters and brothers.
Bless our neighbors who are imprisoned throughout this world,
whether they have harmed society
or are disdained because of poverty, religion or race.
Inspire us to design systems of healing and restoration
for those who have hurt others,
for those who have been hurt,
for society in need of justice.
Open our hearts to children whose parents are incarcerated.
Strengthen those who care for them.
Convince these vulnerable ones that you will never abandon them,
and teach us to place compassion for them within our systems of justice.
Release all of us from our inner walls of hatred and separation
so we may learn ever more profoundly
that you who live within us live also in each neighbor,
no matter how disguised.
We ask you this in the name of Jesus, your Son,
who was once arrested among us. Amen.
-Sister Sally Witt
Celebrating 150 Years of Serving God and Neighbor
On November 29, 1872, The Cambria Freeman reported on “a most diabolical murder” and the subsequent public execution of long-time resident Michael Moore. In “Moore’s Last Night on Earth,” Moore expresses gratitude to “the gentle Sisters of St. Joseph,” calling them “angels of mercy who prayed with him constantly, fervently and sincerely” just hours before he was hung in the courtyard of the jail. It was the day before Thanksgiving. On the wooden platform, Moore uttered his final words: “Pray for me, for I need your prayers.”
From Cambria County to Beaver County and from Massachusetts to California, many of our Sisters have stepped into jails and prisons to offer prayers and presence to a vulnerable population of mostly women who are often trapped in a web of violence and addiction. Over the decades, Sisters have not only served as chaplains, nurses and visitors to those who are incarcerated, but also as advocates for greater social supports for them inside and outside of jail.
Today, our Sisters and Associates reach across the Ohio River to the Beaver County Jail to pray with and listen to the heart-breaking stories of women – many of whom feel hopeless and forgotten. When visits became impossible during the Covid-19 pandemic, Sisters shifted to letter writing in an effort to remain present to these women.
The visits and letters are an outward expression of our corporal work of mercy and a living reminder of Matthew’s words which tell us that whatever we do for the least of our brothers and sisters, we do for Jesus. Although our outreach to those at the Beaver County Jail has shifted during the Covid-19