CALLING SAINT DISMAS: Any Milwaukee Area Employers Out There?

Narrative: The story of this criminal, St. Dismas, who suffered crucifixion with Christ on Calvary, teaches the depth of Christ’s willingness to redeem those condemned. In this icon, St. Dismas stands in his prison cell with the words, “St. Dismas, The Compassionate Thief,” coarsely scratched into the wall. The icon presents those words in the color of blood to express the anguish of imprisonment. Unaffected by the bars of the cell, Christ in the light of his glory blesses St. Dismas and releases him from his human imprisonment.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal [St. Dismas] rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)
By: Lu Bro of Bridge Building Images

As I have alluded to in earlier posts, I often wonder who reads this stuff. I sometimes have answers to this question when people write here in the public forum, or when I hear from those who email me, addressing their thoughts via my college email. The folks who usually check in are parishioners, students, family members and folks from the Packer organization. Occasionally I will hear from complete strangers from across the country -- that's always an interesting and intriguing experience! Not surprisingly though, I have yet to hear from some of the inmates from GBCI! Nevertheless, in past blogs I have written about some of my encounters at the maximum security prison -- and at one point, I even wrote about a specific inmate. Tonight I am wondering if there are any employers in the Milwaukee area who are looking for a laborer to hire? Let me explain....

Today I was engaged in a phone call conversation with that very person, Luis: a former inmate at Green Bay Correctional Institution who was paroled earlier this past summer after time well served. As I mentioned in a previous post as well as in a spring-time homily, I have kept Luis in my thoughts and prayers for some time, hoping that he would adjust well in the transition from prison life to life back on the streets in his native homeland, Milwaukee. I had hoped that Luis would remain in Green Bay after his release, so that there could be any number of people that would keep an eye on him to keep him on a righteous path. Further, I would do my best to help Luis seek and find a job that would help get him on his feet.

But as you can probably understand, Luis wanted to be closer to his family. I trust that they will be a supportive influence on his new-found freedom.

Since his release, I have been in contact with his parole officer, and as I said earlier, today I was engaged in a conversation with Luis himself. On all accounts, Luis seems to be doing very well. He was so engaging on the phone and he freely shared some of the ups and downs he's experienced along the way. But then there's employment....... ...... That has not been going quite as well! It seems as though people are very hesitant to hire someone with a checkered past. Luis understands the potential employers' concerns.

Towards that end, I have begun a bit of a 'novena' to Saint Dismas, the patron saint of inmates, with the hope that someone out there will give this guy a second chance, just as Christ gave "The Good Thief" a second chance given his sincerity of heart. That's easy for Christ to do -- being all knowing and all loving; perhaps it's not as easy for us humans to do.

Nevertheless, if there is someone reading this who is willing to take such a chance and would like to know more information, I would be more than willing to speak with you and vouch for this man's character. For those of you who are not Milwaukee area employers, please keep Luis in your thoughts and prayers. Through the intercession of Saint Dismas, may this good young man have a chance at a second chance at getting it right!

In imprisonment and in freedom, "God's flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd's care!"

Father James Baraniak, O. Praem.


Katie C said...

Fr. Jim--
Have you read some of the sociological and criminological literature on "Labeling Theory"? I think you would find it fascinating. It just validates what Luis is going through with respect to not being able to find employment after getting out and what that ultimately does to someone trying to make it in society. It's a bleak theory BUT Luis has the added benefit of someone trying to help him network (you) which can make all the difference. I hope you find something and I hope his family stays true to him.
-Katie C.

Anonymous said...

While I can't give Luis any employment hopes, I will keep him in my daily prayers that the Holy Spirit leads someone to employ him.


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