Father Joseph V. Corpora, CSC | April 26, 2018
On Good Friday I had the unique privilege of presiding and preaching at Westville Prison, about an hour west of South Bend. Fifty men live in the dorm where we had the Good Friday prayer service, all of them enrolled as students through an initiative of the University and Holy Cross College. I am so impressed with this initiative. It is really a time-honored way of understanding education and learning — the men get to discuss what they’re learning and studying in class in their day-to-day conversations in the dorm, and along the way, they can earn Bachelor’s or Associates degrees. This year, on May 24, three men will receive a BA, and 17 men will receive an AA.
My visit began in the common room of the student dorm, where I tried to meet and shake the hand of each person present, some men I had met before in my last visit, others I had not.
As I did this, I could not help but think of what Pope Francis says on his annual Holy Thursday prison visits in Rome: “There is really no good reason why I am not in here and you are not out there.” I think of my own life. The major reasons why I am not inside have almost nothing to do with me.
I had good parents who brought me up a certain way and were always there for me. I did not choose my parents.
I grew up in a lower middle class neighborhood that was safe and where everyone looked out for each other. I did not choose that neighborhood.
I went to Catholic school from kindergarten to eighth grade and received a great education at the hands of the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco, an education and formation that I will never be able to be sufficiently grateful for. I did not choose to go to that school.