||Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed|
Connecting the Dots for Life
By: Dale Recinella
I used to fly into Houston on business in the 1980s but never drove Interstate 45 north of downtown.
Today, the Sunday before Thanksgiving 2008, not driving Interstate 45 north of Houston seems like a good idea that I should have
stuck with. There are no shoulders to nestle the six lanes of traffic per side; only intermittent accident investigation pods.
And everybody is driving like they do in Texas.
Just as I start feeling nostalgic for the slow, purposeful pace of life in my rural north Florida, a huge white monolith
looms in the distance. Texas Revolutionary War hero Sam Houston’s seven-story icon welcomes me to Huntsville, home of the
infamous Texas death house called the Walls unit. Walls has hosted almost 40% of all the executions in the U.S. since the
modern American death penalty experiment began in 1976.
About one mile from the death house is the Planned Parenthood office that snares young women in difficulty and directs them to
places that will kill the innocent life in their womb. These two pivotal cogs in the Texas machinery of death are the reason that
I am in Huntsville the Sunday and Monday before Thanksgiving. The Texas Catholic Conference is welcoming me in the hope that
Florida will someday host an event of this kind.
By 8:30 a.m. Monday morning, the Huntsville parish church of St. Thomas the Apostle is filled to overflowing. The parish hall
is overflowing. The two tents erected outside are overflowing. The Mass being said by Cardinal Archbishop Daniel DiNardo of
Houston-Galveston is the opening of the Texas Pilgrimage for Life. Bishop Vann of Ft. Worth and Auxiliary Bishop Cantú of San
Antonio concelebrate along with over a dozen priests. Eighteen deacons are present and vested. Based upon filled seats, the
number in attendance is between 550 and 600. Texas Catholics have shown up in force. Attendance is beyond expectations.
Cardinal DiNardo punctuates his welcome, homily and closing with a summary of the reason for this Texas-centric Catholic event.
No banners. No slogans. No placards or protest signs. No confrontations with passersby. This is not a political demonstration.
This is a pilgrimage of prayer—intercessory prayer. This is a visible and tangible witness to the God-given dignity of the human
person from conception to natural death, an intense experience of prayer and reconciliation for all those who strive to promote
a Culture of Life.
After Mass buses take us to the gathering area across the street from the Planned Parenthood office. Cardinal DiNardo recites
the opening prayer and leads us in the Rosary for Life. Sam Houston University lies between the two factories of death. Our route
takes us from Planned Parenthood, around the border of the campus and to the Texas death house.
About 450 to 500 Catholics are in the procession. Cardinal and Bishops. Priests and Deacons. Nuns and Religious Brothers. A
Byzantine Rite priest with his family. High school students. Knights of Columbus. Legion of Mary. Respect Life. Eucharistic
Adoration Society. Pax Christi. Twenty-something and thirty-something parents with toddlers. Grandparents with adult children
and teens. African Americans. Asians. Native Americans. Caucasians. Hispanics. The assembly is a microcosm of our Pilgrim Church.
As we approach the infamous Walls unit, the closing Hail Mary and Hail Holy Queen are prayed. Officers look down from their turrets
while Marian hymns echo between the aged redbrick walls. Several guards cross themselves and bow their heads. Finally, standing across
the road from the brick sign Huntsville Unit - Texas State Penitentiary -1848, Cardinal DiNardo prays his closing blessing.
My eyes are moist. My voice is thick with emotion. This is my Church, standing as a unity amidst diversity, against the Culture
of Death. No bickering about politics or personal agendas. Today we all stand shoulder-to-shoulder supporting and praying with
each other for victory on every front in the war that is being waged against the value and dignity of human life.
First published: The Florida Catholic, December 19, 2008
© 2008 Dale S. Recinella & The Florida Catholic.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.
I Was In Prison
News & Updates
This ezine is targeted for people involved in prison ministry or in stopping the death penalty, we think you will find helpful information for people who are undecided about capital punishment, for those who have never experienced the inside of a jail or prison, and for those who feel called to participate through prayer and adoration.
Your name and information will never be used or shared with anyone. We promise!
Dale S. Recinella
, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella
, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed