“I haven’t walked a mile in these kids’ shoes.”
When Sr. Carol Marie Haag was asked to join a volunteer program working with teens at Milwaukee County Children’s Detention Center (CDC), she questioned if she had what it takes.
“I prayed a lot,” Sr. Carol Marie says, “but I couldn’t say yes or no until I tried it.” That was four years ago and Sr. Carol Marie has found her place in this special pastoral care ministry. She says, “I didn’t plan it this way. It was the Holy Spirit.”
Sr. Carol Marie comes prepared with at least two talking points on a Scripture reading to help break the ice at her CDC visits. Slowly, teens join in the conversation. She says faith-sharing puts everyone on the same level.
“We know they come to meetings to get out of the cell block. Even so,” she says, “they’re willing to read Scripture and share with us. At the end of our time together, we ask if anyone has something to ask the Lord. They usually pray for their upcoming court dates and family members. Sometimes, the kids ask why we keep coming. I tell them, ‘As a teacher, I had 50 minutes to help 34 students learn to type, but I never got to ask about their relationship with the Lord.’” She recalls one boy who came to the meetings month after month for more than a year. “I could see a gradual change in him, and he accepted responsibility for what he did.”
Sr. Carol Marie says she doesn’t change the lives of these young people. She says, “I am most certain it is the Divine Savior and Holy Spirit who give these kids the courage to change.” But she knows this ministry has changed her heart.
Our 2016 Christmas appeal will support all our sisters God has called to the sacred ministry of pastoral care. Whether comforting the sick, offering grief support, or visiting prisoners, our sisters are the face of Christ to people in need. Help us bring His blessing of hope, faith and love to others with your gift this Christmas.